Intellectual Property

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P2P File Sharing and Intellectual Property Violations

Overview of Paper
Whether we believe it is right or not, many of us have become accustomed to the fact that a large number people download copyrighted material regularly using Peer-to-Peer file-sharing software. As a result, the entertainment industry is losing billions of dollars in revenue, and is suffering from the infringements of many copyrights. Who should be held responsible for this? Is it the fault of the people who misuse the software or the fault of the software distributors for allowing this to occur? With the recent case of MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., these issues came to an even bigger showdown than the predecessor case of A&M Records Inc. V. Napster in which the violations that its users were directly infringing the plaintiffs' copyrights, that Napster was liable for contributory infringement of the plaintiffs' copyrights and that Napster was liable for vicarious infringement of the plaintiffs' copyrights, particularly after it was discovered that multi-platinum artists were finding their songs leaked to the internet long before an album had ever been released. (Vaver) Thusly, the basis of this paper will be to examine the relationship of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing services and how they violate copyrights, patents and generally, intellectual property. Further, I will discuss the impact on software developers, artists and the individual user who participates in utilizing P2P software on their individual and public access computer systems. The primary case that will be featured in this discussion is Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) versus Grokster which took place in 2005.

History of participants (MGM)
Theater magnate Marcus Lowe, who orchestrated the merger of Metro Pictures Corp., Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions, formed MGM in April 1924. With visionary Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg at the helm, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was a powerhouse of prolific artistry and filmmaking expertise that the studio famously said attracted "more stars than are in the heavens." During a golden three decades from 1924 to 1954, the Culver City-based studio dominated the movie business, creating a Best Picture nominee every year for two straight decades. One of the more memorable years at the Academy Awards® was in 1939 when MGM's Gone With the Wind and MGM's The Wizard of Oz were both nominated for Best Picture. Gone With the Wind took home Best Picture that year, along with 8 other Oscars. The Wizard of Oz secured two Oscars. United Artists was established on July 15, 1919 by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith and was best known as "the company built by the stars." The budding company quickly left an indelible mark on Hollywood, revolutionizing the motion-picture business by promising creative freedom to actors and filmmakers, while offering the filmmakers a share of the film's profits. UA's Midnight Cowboy, released in 1969 starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, was the first X-Rated film to be nominated and win an Academy Award®. It won 3 Oscars®, including Best Picture. It was changed to an R-rating in 1971. United Artists later joined the MGM family in 1981, and thrived as member of the "lion's pride."

MGM boasts a total of 205 Academy Awards® in its vast library. Among those are 15 Best Pictures. These films include; Rebecca (1940), Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Hamlet (1948), Marty (1955), The Apartment (1960), West Side Story (1961), Tom Jones (1963), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Rocky (1976), Annie Hall (1977), Platoon (1986), Rain Man (1988), Dances With Wolves (1990), The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Today MGM boasts an impressive library comprised of titles from the United Artists, Orion Pictures, and Goldwyn Entertainment and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment libraries. With approximately 4,100 films and over 10,400 hours of television programming, the library also...
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