Artists File Amicus Briefs In Grokster Case

U.S. recording artists today (Nov. 8) for the first time filed a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. The musicians are asking the Court to review the so-called
The musicians are asking the Court to review the so-called
Grokster case, formally titled Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, et al. v. Grokster Ltd., et al.

The artists are all members of the Recording Artists Coalition (RAC), and include all members of the Eagles and the Dixie Chicks, as well as other RAC members such as Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Brooks and Dunn, Jimmy Buffett, Stevie Nicks and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.

The RAC filing is one of many expected amicus and reply briefs due today, one month after the member companies of the Recording Industry Assn. and the Motion Picture Assn. of America filed their petitions asking the High Court to take up the case. The National Music Publishers Assn. and the Songwrtiers Guild of America had also filed for a High Court review.

The petition followed an Aug. 19 decision by the 9th. Circuit Court of Appeals that found that the software makers of peer-to-peer services Grokster and Morpheus were not guilty of contributory or vicarious copyright infringement because they do not have centralized servers and do not "control" activity of its users.

That ruling is in contradiction with the June 30, 2003, 7th. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found that similar service Aimster was in violation. The petitioners hope that the Supreme Court may want to reconcile the two rulings.

Each ruling differently applied the decision of the Supreme Court's 1985 Betamax case, which found that there is no contributory infringement if operators have no direct knowledge or control of the infringing activity, or if the machine or software in question has substantial non-infringing uses.

NARAS spearheaded another amicus brief filed today that includes groups representing a wide sprectrum of featured and non-featured artists and producers -- AFTRA, AFM, Country Music Assn., the Gospel Music Assn. Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, the Jazz Alliance International and the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.

Streamcast Networks, Inc., owners of Morpheus, and Grokster together filed an opposition brief.

In addition, state attorney generals from 41 states asked the High Court for a review, as did ASCAP, BMI, the Nashville Songwriters Assn. International and, ironically, the reformulated Napster.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide by January whether or not to hear the review.


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