Published: Sunday 31 July 2005

-- Court Verdict USA

Here is a damper for those who swap music through file-sharing networks such as Grokster and Morpheus. The us S upreme Court (sc) has ruled such activity as infringement of the country's copyright rules and has held the networks responsible for what users do with their software.

The sc was responding to a piracy case that dates back to 2001. 28 us- based film studios and music companies -- including mgm studios and Sony bmg -- had filed the case against Streamcast Networks, the makers of Morpheus and Grokster.

Most media observers in the us believed that the entertainment moguls were fighting a losing battle. Michael McGuire, of the media analysis firm Gartner g 2, said: "The verdict is somewhat of a surprise. These peer-to-peer services were the most efficient way to deliver rich media."

The media companies were naturally elated. "The court made it very clear that we can chase them out and go after damages," said Andrew Lack, chief executive director, Sony bmg. "The ruling is an historic victory for intellectual property and is good news for consumers, musicians, artists, innovation and for all lawful Internet businesses," exulted Dan Glickman, president, Motion Picture Association of America, usa.

In contrast, advocates of file-sharing were terribly distraught. Former Grokster president Wayne Rosso now expects cases on file-sharing networks "coming down like a Texas hailstorm".

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