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The Grokster Case

Summarize briefly the key facts of the Grokster case.

Discuss the applicable law and legal issues in the case of Grokster case.
Assume you are the CEO of Grokster. What could you do to make your service compliant with copyright laws?

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Key Facts of the Grokster case:

The plaintiffs in this case were song writers, music publishers, and motion picture studios (such as MGM, Universal City, and Disney Enterprises). They filed suit against Grokster and StreamCast for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement ( Himma &Tavani, 2008).

"Grokster and Streamcast distribute free software that allows computer users to share electronic files through peer-to-peer networks. The software allows users' computers to communicate directly with each other. There is no central server and Grokster and Streamcast are not involved in users' acts of file sharing. Slip op. at 1. The peer-to-peer networks created by the software can be used to share any type of digital file, but the networks are primarily used to share copyrighted music and video files without the authorization of the copyright owners. Slip op. at 2. MGM commissioned a study that showed nearly 90% of the files available for download were copyrighted works. Slip op. at 4. Importantly, Grokster and Streamcast conceded direct infringement by users of their software, and that they were aware that users use their software primarily to download copyrighted files. The companies also learned from time to time of their users' infringement directly from the users, when users sent emails to each company with questions about playing copyrighted movies they had downloaded. The companies responded to such inquiries with guidance. MGM also placed the companies on notice that 8 million copyrighted files could be obtained using their software. Slip op. at 9." (Hornick, 2005)

"The plaintiffs contended that the networks of the defendants were employed for the purpose of swapping copyrighted music and movie files and that their business models depended on copyright infringement. The magnitude of file sharing of copyrighted works is beyond dispute: "90% of the works available on the FastTrack network demonstrably were infringing, and over 70% belonged to Plaintiffs" (Plaintiffs' Joint Excerpts of Record, 2003). On the contrary, Grokster and StreamCast have argued that "potential noninfringing uses of their software are significant in kind, even if infrequent in practice" (MGM v. Grokster, 2005).( Himma &Tavani, 2008).

The plaintiffs ...

Solution Summary

This solution dicusses a legal case study that involves copyright infringement.