Last weekend over 110,000 music fans paid £125 ($228) each to attend the Glastonbury festival in Britain’s West Country and hear their favourite bands perform. In years gone by, many thousands more attended than paid, as less scrupulous festival-goers jumped the fence to watch the bands for free. The organisers stamped out the practice by building a bigger and better barrier. On Monday June 27th, a ruling by America’s Supreme Court provided the entertainment industry with the means to build a bigger and better fence against the internet pirates who refuse to pay for music and film.
The court’s unanimous ruling said that Grokster and StreamCast Networks, two makers of file-sharing software, are liable for the breaches of copyright that their technology allows, thereby reversing the decisions of two lower courts. The case, originally brought by MGM, a big Hollywood film studio, was joined by 27 of the world’s leading film and music companies. The ruling means that the file-sharing firms can be sued by entertainment companies for the theft of copyright-protected material using their software.