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Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Morpheus fights entertainment industry appeal


StreamCast Networks, developer of the Morpheus peer-to-peer (P2P) software, today filed its brief in a closely-watched appeal that may determine how much copyright owners will control the development and use of new technologies.

In April 2003, StreamCast and fellow P2P software maker Grokster won a landmark victory against 28 entertainment companies. A federal court declared that the entertainment companies could not shut down P2P software makers for the copyright infringements of P2P software users when the software has significant legitimate uses. Examples of legitimate uses include sharing the music of artists like Janis Ian and the many others who permit sharing of live music, the works of Shakespeare, NASA photographs, films in the Prelinger archive, and other public domain materials.

The court ruled that the Morpheus software was no different from a VCR or photocopier, relying on a 1984 Supreme Court decision determining that Sony could not be held responsible for copyright infringement by users of the Betamax VCR.

The entertainment companies have appealed the case to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

"MGM v. Grokster is about whether copyright owners have the right to veto new technologies and stifle innovation," said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "All innovators have a great deal at stake in the conflict over P2P software."

EFF, along with co-counsel Charles Baker of the Austin, TX firm of Munsch, Hardt, Kopf & Harr, and StreamCast in-house General Counsel Matthew A. Neco, represent StreamCast in the MGM v. Grokster case.

The court has not yet scheduled oral argument on the case.


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