In a unanimous decision, the court ruled in MGM Studios Inc. vs. Grokster Ltd. that both content companies and Internet service providers could be sued for illegal music or video file-sharing over peer-to-peer networks.
Network hosts warned the ruling was broad enough to effectively overturn the court's October 1979 ruling on analog videotaping, in which the court held that Sony Corp. was correct to claim that home videotaping of broadcast television constituted "fair use" of duplication technology.
"This could have a definite impact on TiVo or other [personal video recorders], maybe even on analog videotaping," the anonymous host of one Pacific Northwest peer-to-peer networks told users Monday. "It might not end with networked file-sharing, either. What if you use an e-mail client to send an MP3 file to a friend?"
But Andrew Greenberg, intellectual property attorney working with IEEE-USA on its amicus curae brief, said Justice David Souter's opinion was pretty close to the "balanced ruling" IEEE had sought.