UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Legal experts available for Grokster U.S. Supreme Court case

– University of California, Berkeley, law professors Pamela Samuelson and Deirdre Mulligan, and Samuelson Law Technology and Public Policy Clinic fellow Jack Lerner are available for media interviews regarding MGM vs. Grokster, a closely-watched Internet file-sharing case that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 29.

More than two dozen of the world's largest entertainment companies are suing makers of software products that allow users to easily transfer to their computers high-quality copies of music, movies and other files. Movie and record companies contend that the services are generally used for illegal trading of music, movie and software - not for personal use.

The Samuelson Law Technology and Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley's School of Law (Boalt Hall) filed a friend-of-the-court brief on March 1 on behalf of 60 professors of intellectual property law and technology and on behalf of the U.S. Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, an organization for computing professionals.

The brief asserts that a ruling supporting the plaintiffs' position would change the balance of power between the entertainment industry and the technology industry, mire the courts in subjective review of new technologies, and stifle technological innovation. Current legal standards, based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling more than two decades ago involving an unsuccessful attempt by the movie industry to block the use of Sony Corp.'s VCR-like Betamax recorders, hold that businesses cannot be held liable for illegal uses of such products as long the product is capable of substantial non-infringing uses as well.

The Boalt Hall brief contends that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Sony case strikes the correct balance among the interests of copyright holders, of developers of multiple-use technologies, and of the public in access to technologies with uses that do not infringe on copyrights.