So, I come back to the UK and the biggest decision in Cyberlaw in recent years has finally taken place. It was expected that the U.S. Supreme Court would produce a negative ruling against P2P manufacturers, and if one reads the press, this would seem to be the case. However, the ruling is more nuanced than what we are being told. The Court decided unanimously on two main points:
- The distributor of a dual-use technology may be liable for the infringing activities of third parties where he actively seeks to advance the infringement.
- Sony does not need revision.
However, there was a 6-3 split in the point of inducement. The court found that there was enough evidence that StreamCast and Grokster communicated an inducing message to their software users. Inducement is defined as an advertisement or solicitation that broadcasts a message designed to stimulate others to commit violations. This ruling is much less damaging than expected. What this means is that the technology appears to be fine, as long as the manufacturers do not induce users to infringe.
But the real question is, who cares? Is this going to stop one single music download? The answer is likely to be negative, because the ruling attacks clients, not the networks themselves. You can shut down Kazaa tomorrow, and the Fastrack network will still exist.