BMI Joins Fight Against File Sharing

Posted in News on March 30, 2005
On March 29, the U.S. Supreme Court held a hearing that will decide whether or not Grokster -- a company that provides peer-to-peer file-sharing software -- will be "contributory infringers" or "vicariously liable" for the infringement activities of the users of its software. BMI has joined with many others in the creative community in urging the Supreme Court to render a judgment that protects intellectual property. The Court's decision in the case, expected by July, could be a major turning point either in the direction of improved copyright protection or economic undermining of singers, songwriters and other creators whose works are used without compensation.

BMI's Fred Cannon (right) argues with Consumer Rights Association activist Michael Petricone outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The implications for copyright owners, including BMI's more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, are serious. In essence, Grokster's software helps make available thousands of songs in a variety of genres without authorization from, or payment to, the owners and creators of those songs. Similar to the original Napster, the activities of Grokster and comparable services like Morpheus could mean the loss of millions of dollars to copyright owners.

BMI's Fred Cannon, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, said, "It is important to understand that the issue relating to the Grokster case is about protecting creativity. Stealing songs on the Internet is just the beginning – where will it end? Members of the American public need to understand that tomorrow it may be their property that is taken. This case is extremely important to the prosperity of our nation and our children's future prosperity.

"Taking songwriters property without their permission and no compensation is plain STEALING in any language!

"Our country's biggest asset is our wealth of creativity. No matter what technology brings us in the future, creativity must be compensated for or this nation will have nothing and we will become a poor, lawless society."

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