The Supreme Court Decision in MGM v. Grokster
The Court adopts an inducement theory of contributory copyright infringement liability and preserves the Sony "substantial noninfringing use" doctrine in certain circumstances
The United States Supreme Court recently issued its much-anticipated decision in MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., a case in which attorneys from Cooley Godward's Intellectual Property Litigation and Internet Law practice groups filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief on behalf of emerging technology companies. The Court vacated the Ninth Circuit's judgment — which had upheld summary judgment in favor of the defendants — and remanded the case for reconsideration of the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and possibly a trial. The decision clarified to some degree the Court's approach to balancing the competing values of supporting creative pursuits through copyright protection and promoting innovation in new technologies by limiting secondary liability for copyright infringement. But the decision leaves undefined the precise contours of a critical "safe harbor" for developers and distributors of new products and services, defers many difficult issues for resolution in future cases, may lead to increased litigation, and will likely make it more complex to litigate cases involving allegations of secondary liability.
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