On March 29, 2005, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster. This is an important case to the library, education, technology, and consumer electronics communities as there are significant implications for future technological development and innovation.
In this case, 28 entertainment companies sued the makers of file-sharing services, Grokster, Kazaa, and Morpheus. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that file-sharing services were not liable for their users' illegal activity. The ruling cited the precedent set in the US Supreme Court decision, Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios (known as the Sony Betamax decision, 1984), and noted that file sharing systems have significant non-infringing uses not unlike videocassette recorders that allow consumers to make copies of copyrighted works for the purposes of time-shifting.
ARL, with four other library associations, the Internet Archive, the ACLU, and Project Gutenberg filed an amicus brief (PDF) before the US Supreme Court. The brief presented includes examples of peer-to-peer applications in the education and library arenas as well as a focus on free speech issues.
These organizations also filed an amicus brief (PDF) when the case was before the Court of Appeals.