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Experts clash over P2P ruling

Court decision could have legal implications for iPod

NEW YORK — A panel of experts disagreed on both the meaning and implications of the recent Supreme Court decision on online file-sharing.

Convened by the Museum of Television & Radio to discuss the effects of last month’s high-court ruling on Grokster and Morpheus, seven experts, including former attorneys for both sides, argued first over the degree of clarity in the decision.

Decision held that peer-to-peer services Grokster and Morpheus can be sued for actively inducing users to illegally swap copyrighted content.

Attorneys and representatives of the entertainment industry claimed the decision was very clear on the matter of what constituted active inducement. But Grokster’s attorney, Michael Page, and an expert on technology business initiatives, Talal Shamoon, said the only matter clear in the decision is that it gives “copyright holders lots of leverage over small technological innovators.”

Page and Shamoon also said the decision could have legal implications for Apple’s iPod and certain Microsoft applications.

Rick Cotton, exec VP and general counsel for NBC Universal, argued that the decision “helps move the conversation forward on how to good business” on the Internet. Fritz Attaway, exec VP and general counsel for the Motion Picture Assn. of America, seconded that opinion, saying the decision “will create tools for good, legitimate businesses to start finding niches in markets heretofore occupied by scam artists.”

Page, however, doubted the decision would draw any clear lines for future P2P services that could be developed and marketed legitimately but used illegally. “Will they be liable, then?” he asked.

It will take years “to figure out what it all means,” said Thomas Perrelli, an attorney who represented film and recording studios in the case.

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