Monday, June 27, 2005

More Supreme Court Rulings

The Supreme Court has more rulings out.

In a unanimous decision, the Court said that file-sharing services can be sued over their users' swapping files in violation of copyright.

::::::::Internet file-sharing services will be held responsible if they intend for their customers to use software primarily to swap songs and movies illegally, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, rejecting warnings that the lawsuits will stunt growth of cool tech gadgets such as the next iPod.

The unanimous decision sends the case back to lower court, which had ruled in favor of file-sharing services Grokster Ltd. and StreamCast Networks Inc. on the grounds that the companies couldn't be sued. The justices said there was enough evidence of unlawful intent for the case to go to trial.

Well, no shit they should be sued if they intend for people to break the law. The question, I believe, was whether the production of a piece of software that can be used for such a purpose makes one liable if someone does use it as such. However, I believe the Court ruled properly here. If there was sufficient evidence that the makers of the software/service not only made the software but induced people to use it to violate copyright, then a jury should see that information and make a verdict. The Supreme's punted the ball back. Go to trial and then we'll see.

Next up: Can cops be sued for failing to enforce a restraining order? Supremes say: no.

::::::::The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police cannot be sued for how they enforce restraining orders, ending a lawsuit by a Colorado woman who claimed police did not do enough to prevent her estranged husband from killing her three young daughters.

Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police enforcement of the court order against her husband, the court said in a 7-2 opinion.

City governments had feared that if the court ruled the other way, it would unleash a potentially devastating flood of cases that could bankrupt municipal governments.

Gonzales contended that police did not do enough to stop her estranged husband, who took the three daughters from the front yard of her home in June 1999 in violation of a restraining order.

Hours later Simon Gonzales died in a gun fight with officers outside a police station. The bodies of the three girls, ages 10, 9 and 7, were in his truck.

OK, I'm less happy with this one. In this case, Ms. Gonzales reached her former hubby on his cell and Simon Gonzales told her he'd taken the kids to an amusement park. Now, how did he do such a thing without violating the restraining order? Once notified of this, the cops should have had a judge swear out an arrest warrant and they should have moved with all possible speed to find him, given the presense of the girls in his company. They didn't. The deal with a restraining order is that, in the final analysis, it's just a piece of paper. Without the vigorous enforcement by (excuse the repetition) law enforcement, it's worthless. The person protected by the order is counting on the cops being there to back up the words with the necessary deeds. If someone can make the case that the cops failed in their duty to enforce, why should that person not be permitted to bring the case to court? The net effect of this is to seriously undermine the confidence in the whole concept of a restraining order. Now, victims who are relying on such an order for protection must realize that the only protection they can count on is what they, themselves, can bring to bear. May I suggest a Sig?

More to come as they put 'em out.