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Readers: P2P ruling will spark lawsuit rush

Some readers predict the decision will spur a flurry of suits against software makers; others say the ruling is far from disastrous.

The Supreme Court's ruling that peer-to-peer companies can be held responsible for copyright infringement by their customers drew swift response from CNET News.com readers.

Many called the court's logic flawed and expressed concern that the decision would unleash a flurry of lawsuits against software makers.

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"Say farewell to the high-tech industry," a reader who goes by the name T Oad wrote in the TalkBack section of the story. "Say goodbye to Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Sun, HP, Dell, Cisco, Seagate and on and on. You all make products that are used to violate copyrights. Whether it's a document or a photo or a sound file, anyone who owns anything protected by copyright now has the right to sue you till your wallets are empty. And sue you they will. The courts are about to become inundated with lawsuits against technology providers of all stripes."

Another reader, who uses the nickname Anon Ymouse, expressed similar fears. "I'm not against suing those that actually systematically infringe and make a profit at it, but now we're all going to suffer a very tedious and expensive legal morass that ultimately will produce nothing but cost to taxpayers and further alienation of the consumer by the media industries. Everyone loses."

But others urged fellow readers not to overreact. "This is not 'goodbye high-tech.' This is not 'Sony Betamax overturned.' This is not 'sellout to the largest companies,'" read one comment. "This means that someone has to make the software with the clear intent of promoting copyright infringement."

The high court handed movie studios and record labels a sweeping victory against file-swapping with its unanimous decision that companies such as Grokster could be held responsible for the copyright piracy on their networks.

The decision comes as a strong victory for copyright companies and stands to reshape an Internet landscape in which file swapping has become commonplace.

But with the ruling just announced, it will likely take the public some time to make sense of the implications. "With this ruling, does this not open the door for them to say that ISPs will be held responsible for any actions a user does online?" asked a reader who goes by the name Onehop Support.

Someone else wanted to know: "Will we see charges against big companies, or is this just the continued witch-hunt for the file swapping companies?"

A reader nicknamed John Doe had strong words for those who were quick to slam the decision. "What you are missing is that this was a full sweep, 9-0 in favor," the reader wrote. "I really want to read the rulings because there has to be some serious justification as to why EVERYONE sided with MGM."

John Doe also suggested the decision would ultimately work against companies seeking to copyright their works.

"You actually think this is going to stop anything? If anything, it's going to drive people to get encrypted decentralized P2P up and running even faster. RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) can't sue who they can't find."

But reader Brian Snider applauded the ruling. "As a paying customer, this sounds good to me," he wrote. "I can't believe the number of thieves out there who feel entitled to their stolen warez...mind boggling."