The U.S. Supreme Court gave the nod today (Dec. 10) to review the federal appellate court decision that held peer-to-peer network operators Grokster and StreamCast not liable for secondary copyright i

The U.S. Supreme Court gave the nod today (Dec. 10) to review the federal appellate court decision that held peer-to-peer network operators Grokster and StreamCast not liable for secondary copyright infringement.

The major U.S. motion picture studios and record companies, as well as a certified class of 27,000 music publishers and songwriters, sued the two companies and others in 2001 for copyright infringement. In resolving one aspect of the case, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco held on Aug. 19 that Grokster and StreamCast were not liable for the unauthorized file-sharing on their "decentralized" versions of the software.

The copyright owners filed a petition Oct. 8 for Supreme Court review. Forty state attorneys general and international organizations representing "hundreds of thousands" of copyright holders, educators, sports figures and other interests in more than 100 countries then filed amicus -- friend-of-the-court -- briefs on Nov. 6, urging review.

While some parties urged the Court to reverse the decision, others simply asked for the Court to clarify the rules governing P2P technology and copyright. Grokster and StreamCast urged the Court to refuse review.

"There are seminal issues before the Court -- the future of the creative industries and legitimate Internet commerce," says Mitch Bainwol, RIAA chairman/CEO. "These are questions not about a particular technology, but the abuse of that technology by practitioners of a parasitical business model."

"In this rapidly evolving online marketplace, the motion picture studios each embrace and support innovative technologies that have the potential to offer consumers more ways to view the films they enjoy," adds Dan Glickman, MPAA president/CEO. "However, companies such as Grokster and StreamCast that openly profit from the misuse of copyrighted materials while attempting to avoid legal liability should not be protected by the courts."

"StreamCast is confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the Ninth Circuit's ruling in favor of technology," StreamCast CEO Michael Weiss tells Billboard.biz. "If history is any prediction of the future, the outcome of this case is already destined for victory. In the meantime, we will proudly market our product and continue to push the elastic envelope on peer-to-peer technological innovation. At the end of the day, I'm confident that old media will embrace new media."

A hearing to discuss the submission of briefs will be held in January, with oral argument expected in March.