AfterDawn: Tech news

Grokster dumps P2P service

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 07 Nov 2005 14:00 User comments (21)

Grokster dumps P2P service Grokster, a popular file-swapping company involved in a battle with the movie and music industries for the past few years, has agreed to cease distribution of its Peer-to-Peer software. The decision comes following a legal settlement with the Hollywood studios and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Grokster recently suffered a legal defeat in the Supreme Court when the court ruled in favor of the entertainment companies over Grokster and co-defendant StreamCast Networks.
The entertainment companies accused both Grokster and StreamCast of contributing and inciting massive copyright infringement by use of the companies' P2P services. Millions of people worldwide use P2P networks to download and share copyrighted music and movies with each other daily. Grokster will now stop supporting its file sharing software and the associated network.

"This settlement brings to a close an incredibly significant chapter in the story of digital music," Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the RIAA, said in a statement. "This is a chapter that ends on a high note for the recording industry, the tech community and music fans and consumers everywhere." While it is a step toward ending the four year legal case, the lawsuit is by no means over yet.

StreamCast Networks' remains in operation and the company has indicated that it plans to continue fighting the case in lower courts. Grokster's decision might put more pressure on StreamCast to settle however. Grokster is working on, and will offer a legal service soon. "The brand will live on," said attorney Michael Page. "It is shut down, but we look forward to launching a licensed, legal new version of Grokster."


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21 user comments

17.11.2005 14:39

*sigh* It is supposedly more of a milestone to the RIAA than it is to file shares... I mean, who still uses Grokster anyway? So they got caught out for contributing and inciting massive copyright infringement.... Makes me wonder how they commited this crime & if subsequent other p2p clients are at risk

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 07 Nov 2005 @ 14:40

27.11.2005 14:56

The RIAA actually did the public a favor. The Grokster client came along with so much spyware/adware/malware that made it unusable. It became obsolete anyways with other programs out there.

37.11.2005 15:23

no one uses them anyway.

47.11.2005 16:08

But this also could possibly close doors on other types of P2P services.

57.11.2005 16:29

no one used them anyway there are much better programs out there.

67.11.2005 21:57

People may not use this product because it has too much crap involved it it as for now. But in the big picture this is not good news, for the p2p user... But again this is not goin to stop P2P they pop up everyday :)

78.11.2005 2:19

I'm not bothered. As long as BitTorrent and my fave registered trackers are still up! :) Does make me think LimeWire's next though..! -Mike

88.11.2005 8:20

Does make me think LimeWire's next though..! -Mike
You could be right there, Mike. But even LimeWire is getting dragged down by all the fake porn files etc. It has got to the point where I only leech a couple of tunes from there... And dedicate all my uploading to the mighty bittorrent....=)

98.11.2005 8:21

"This is a chapter that ends on a high note for the recording industry, the tech community and music fans and consumers everywhere." *sigh* I would love to know how this is good for consumers and music fans. All it means is that the RIAA can continue suing, winning, and jacking up music prices. How about giving music fans and consumers what they want? I want to buy songs for no more than $1 each, I want to be able to copy to any of my devices (audio cd for stereo, laptop, desktop hooked up to home theater, Minidisc, MP3 CD for the car, PocketPC for haldheld listening). Did I mention I want it to be a minimum of 192kbps? Stop blowing money on lawsuits, use the money saved to come up with a decent distrobution model, and you won't have to spend so much money on lawsuits! It's amazing... a regular business model! "It is shut down, but we look forward to launching a licensed, legal new version of Grokster." Yeah cause that's worked so well for Napster...

108.11.2005 9:26

I have a new Idea..... anyone caught downloading the music or movies must only pay the going rate from walmart or Itunes for the item . so if its a movie that you had to download then they can charge you for it but if you buy the dvd of that movie then you pay nothing.. same should go for the cds and that would be kewl just a thought.....

118.11.2005 10:25

You Just Don't Get It! Do You? Whether Grokster is any good or not. Once Hollywood wins a case against one company, who'll be next. Lawsuits are not good for anyone, in the long run, except lawyers. Steve

128.11.2005 10:34

what happened to that woman that was supposed to be taking these guys on?

138.11.2005 11:24

Ok i know this is a HUGE post, its from my groups thesis paper this year over file sharing networks. I'm confussed as to what i'm reading above because i thought the grokster case had already been heard? The rise and fall of Napster The digital age of music sharing was started in 1999 by none other than an 18-year-old college drop out. Shawn Fanning changed the music industry forever with his popular program, Napster. His idea was simple: to allow computer users to share and swap files for free through a centralized server. He got the idea when he discovered how hard it was to find music on the internet. After working for sixty straight hours, he wrote the code for the program known as Napster. The code included a music-search function, allowed users to find music with ease by simply typing in the name of the song or artist they wished to find. Napster also included the file sharing system which allowed a person to download music directly to his or her computer. Shawn Fanning even included an instant messenger to facilitate a communication system so users could communicate directly with each other. (Burkhalter, n.d., p. 1) Before Napster, obtaining a variety of music from the internet was difficult, at least to this scale. Through Napster, people could share billions of songs and transfer rare copies of music which are unable to found in any retail music store. When was the last time Best Buy carried CD's from artists such as "Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jew Boy Band"? Napster allowed users to also discover up and coming artists, such as O.A.R. who has since became famous because of Napster. Napster also gave users the capability to discuss music trends in the messenger feature with people half-way around the world. In December of 1999, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Napster for copyright infringement, since artists' works were being downloaded without the permission of the artist or the record labels. "Publicity and word-of-mouth attracted more Napster users and inspired the web community to start building its successor in case Napster should be shut down" (McManus, 2003, p. 1) Because of the increase in popularity due to the publicity the RIAA was drawing to Napster, they saw the network as a major threat and was a catalyst for actions to be taken to shut it down., another type of file sharing provider, launched their own version of Napster "which permitted users of the service to 'play' songs that they 'owned' from large servers maintained my" (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 1). never received permission from the record labels, no different than Napster., however, put their songs on their own servers, which they maintained, whereas Napster only provided a search engine for users to search other people's computers through the Napster server. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 1) Since had the songs directly on their servers that a user could download from, they were directly infringing on the copyright laws. Napster, however, does not store any files on its servers, and thus, Napster did not directly infringe any of the rights of the copyright owner; the users were the infringers. Napster’s defense was based on "the landmark Sony case, 'Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios,'" (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 19) which was discussed in a previous section. The case was about whether the Betamax, the first VCR that could record tapes, would hold Sony liable for the making of illegal copies of tapes because of their product. The court held that “the 'Copyright Act' does not expressly render anyone liable for infringement committed by another. The 'Patent Act' expressly brands any one who 'actively induces infringement of a patent' as an infringer and further imposes liability on certain individuals labeled 'contributory infringers'." (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 19) In finding Sony not liable, the court drew from the staple article of the "Commerce Doctrine" codified by Congress in the patent statute. The patent statute states that, "as long as an article has 'substantial non-infringing uses,' it will not be held to infringe another’s patent." (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 19) Therefore, "the sale of copying equipment, like the sale of other articles of commerce, does not constitute contributory infringement if the product is widely used for legitimate, unobjectionable purposes.” (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 19) In other words, as long as the product is used widely for legitimate purposes, such as artists who want to share their music, it is outweighed by its “illegitimate” objectives, i.e. artists who don't want to share their music. Napster based its defense in court on three types of allegedly non-infringing uses: 1) space shifting, 2) sampling, and 3) permissive use. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 23) The argument for space shifting was based on the ability that through Napster people could use the software to transfer music files from their computer to another computer or other device owned by the same person. In other words, they claimed the program was created to enable people to transfer music that they already owned. The proof of such happening was “very thin”, as stated by the judge, and he dismissed the claim that even if it was used for this purpose, it was so infrequent that it wasn't used widely enough to fall under "legitimate" purposes. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 23) Napster then proceeded to argue the idea of sampling, which said that users could listen to music which they wouldn’t normally have access to and could make a better decision on CD purchases. To counter, the RIAA argued that, through surveying college students, CD sales around colleges had dropped dramatically due to the introduction of Napster. Napster's affect on CD sales was one of the most hard-fought battles of the case. In the end, Judge Patel chose to believe the surveys provided by the RIAA, thus defeating Napster's "sampling" defense. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 23) The final argument was overruled because the number of permissive users, those who only downloaded music made available with permission of the artist or record label, was too few. In other words, according to the court, there were too many people downloading copyright protected music. On July 12, 2001, after a long and heated court battle, Napster was ordered to shut down after it failed to adhere to the California-based Gracenote agreement which was to filter out copyrighted music. (Sumrall, 2003, p. 2) Napster desperately tried to adhere to this agreement but users kept finding ways around it by renaming the songs ever so slightly. The important notion in this case however, is that the courts did not address the broader issue of pure peer-to-peer systems in which there is no central directory until the Grokster case on August 19, 2004. Grokster was yet another variation of Napster, a program that allowed users to download MP3’s right to his or her computer. In the Grokster case, the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court represented the first failure by the music industry in its campaign against file sharing services. Grokster turned the case by the manner in which their software worked. Grokster used FastTrack software licensed to it by Kazaa. Grokster's peer-to-peer file sharing network is the supernode model in which a select number of computers on the network are designated as indexing servers. All the file sharing is done using the participant’s personal computers so Grokster has no servers of their own. By having no servers, Grokster can’t be held liable for what is downloaded through their software. Any computer in the network could function as a supernode, or server, if it met the technical requirements, such as speed. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 25) According to Judge Goldstein, the Napster case had misread the Sony case and its application. The Sony case states that "if the product at issue is capable of substantial or commercially significant noninfringing uses, then the copyright owner must demonstrate that the defendant had reasonable knowledge of specific infringing files and failed to act on the knowledge of that infringement" (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 26). In other words, Grokster would have to specifically know and receive a notice when copyrighted material was being downloaded at that specific time. Obviously, over the internet this standard would be nearly impossible to meet. The court found: that Grokster had not materially contributed to the copyright infringement because, unlike Napster, Grokster did not provide the sites and facilities for direct infringement. Grokster did not provide indices or access. The court found that Grokster had no control over its software once it was distributed and went on to say 'even if Software Distributors closed their doors and deactivated all computers within their control, users of their product could continue to share files with little to no interruption.' (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 26) The court found that Grokster only supplied the software for the users to share their files, and therefore, they were not held liable for direct infringement, or the actual act of downloading the music. Because Grokster didn't have the ability to supervise their users, the direct infringers, they were also not held liable for vicarious infringement. There is no registration or login process, therefore Grokster has no ability to terminate access to file sharing functions, once their software is downloaded. In turn, Grokster has no control over their users' application of their software. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 26) The court also ruled in favor of Grokster, that Grokster was not required to prevent sharing copyrighted files and rejected the RIAA claim that Grokster was liable because it “turned a blind eye” to the infringement of their users. This is an interesting statement in and of itself. Napster also made the same claim but was shot down in 2001. The courts now claimed that “negligence did not establish a separate level of liability to be held accountable for.” (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 26) To put into simpler words, because Grokster's software did not prevent people from being able to transfer copyrighted music, they cannot be held accountable for copyright infringements. The court noted that the alleged ability to shut down operations altogether is more akin to the ability to close down an entire swap meet or to stop distributing software altogether rather than the ability to exclude individual participants, a practice of policing aisle, and the ability to block individual users at the point of login and the ability to delete individual file names from one’s computer…the sort of monitoring and supervisor relationship that is supported by vicarious liability in the past is completely absent in this case. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 26) In other words, once the software was downloaded, the provider had no control of how it was used. Even if the company went bankrupt, it would have no effect on the productivity of their software. The court stated that it disagreed with Napster’s interpretation of the Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios case, requiring an analysis of how probable the non-infringing uses of a product were. The Grokster case was significant in that it established a roadmap for companies in developing their products. More importantly, if Grokster had been decided differently, it might have imposed potential liability on manufacturers whose products have both infringing and non-infringing uses but whose use they don’t control once it has been distributed. (Radcliffe, 2004, p. 26)

148.11.2005 11:43

Ok i know this is a HUGE post, its from my groups thesis paper this year over file sharing networks. I'm confussed as to what i'm reading above because i thought the grokster case had already been heard?
O-K The long and short of the situation is this -Grokster lost its' case Vs. Metro Goldwyn Mayer (and a lot of momentum) -Now Grokster has been shut down, ie. you can't share files on it. -Grokster Plans to use its' name & popularity to re-introduce itself (napster style) as a legal paysite. If you read what Dela says carefully, i'm sure you will understand, he puts it fairly simply :) edit: @ everyone - here is the update on the 'new' Grokster It's called Grokster 3g (woooooo!) It looks fairly promising as they state 'It will have the best that P2P has to offer' Does that mean no DRM?? Let's hope so.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 08 Nov 2005 @ 11:50

158.11.2005 13:45


168.11.2005 14:15

Google it my friend, google it....

178.11.2005 17:26

I know what it is, i was saying that and going along with "Who cares..."

188.11.2005 17:56

yea malware city is gone yea that is so good to here

199.11.2005 4:39

what happened to that woman that was supposed to be taking these guys on?
Good Question. There were actually two ladies. (Two separate cases by two diffrent women) who filed two separate suits against the 'Suits' (RIAA). Don't worry....... the battle wages on, and we will hear of their successes soon enough.

2011.11.2005 17:20

It's like I've been telling myself for quite some time now-the RIAA and MPA suck donkey dicks.

2114.11.2005 10:42

I wouldnt worry, P2P users are a community and are here to stay,sure programs,sites, networks will come and go but the P2P user never will, it is expected now to be able to acquire music, films,etc for free from somewhere.

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