While the entertainment industry is cheering the Grokster decision, I am concerned about the issue of vicarious liability and the thwarting of legitimate innovation. I suspect ultimately the decision will be terrific for Trial Lawyers, but not so great for everyone else.
Example: What does the Grokster decision means for Google? The comapany just rolled out Google Video, a search tool that lets you find video on the Web. Let’s say you use that to find copyrighted material on line and then I download what you find, is Google now viacariously liable under this decision?
Even worse, is there now no bright line standard, as their was in the Beta-Max case. Now, we should expect a ton more litigation, all on a very piecemeal basis. I’ll bet SCOTUS will be forced to revisit this decision after a decade or so.
How will the Grokster case stop the 100 to 200 million PCs that have grokster installed from file swapping? Its decentralized and the company cannot control it. (hint: it won’t)
The bigger concern is now litigation risk: While file swapping will continue unabated, legitimate innovations and (previously) legal applications may not get venture funded. That’s not good for innovative companies like Apple and TiVo.
I wish the Supremes woulda stuck with their BetaMax decision . . .