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Unformatted text preview: Cite as: 545 U. S. ____ (2005) 1 Opinion of the Court NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash- ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES _________________ No. 04&480 _________________ METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS v. GROKSTER, LTD., ET AL. ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT [June 27, 2005] JUSTICE SOUTER delivered the opinion of the Court. The question is under what circumstances the distribu- tor of a product capable of both lawful and unlawful use is liable for acts of copyright infringement by third parties using the product. We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirma- tive steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties. I A Respondents, Grokster, Ltd., and StreamCast Networks, Inc., defendants in the trial court, distribute free software products that allow computer users to share electronic files through peer-to-peer networks, so called because users computers communicate directly with each other, not through central servers. The advantage of peer-to- peer networks over information networks of other types shows up in their substantial and growing popularity. Because they need no central computer server to mediate the exchange of information or files among users, the high- 2 METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. v. GROKSTER, LTD. Opinion of the Court bandwidth communications capacity for a server may be dispensed with, and the need for costly server storage space is eliminated. Since copies of a file (particularly a popular one) are available on many users& computers, file requests and retrievals may be faster than on other types of networks, and since file exchanges do not travel through a server, communications can take place between any computers that remain connected to the network without risk that a glitch in the server will disable the network in its entirety. Given these benefits in security, cost, and efficiency, peer-to-peer networks are employed to store and distribute electronic files by universities, government agencies, corporations, and libraries, among others. 1 Other users of peer-to-peer networks include individual recipients of Grokster&s and StreamCast&s software, and although the networks that they enjoy through using the software can be used to share any type of digital file, they have prominently employed those networks in sharing copyrighted music and video files without authorization....
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This note was uploaded on 01/13/2012 for the course LAW 33800A taught by Professor Williamfisher during the Fall '10 term at Harvard.
- Fall '10
- Henry V