Grokster, the largest and the best known of the P2P networks, has closed today as part of a legal agreement with the Hollywood studios. WinMX suspended operations six weeks ago.
MGM pursued Grokster all the way to the Supreme Court, with the judges considering the case in the summer. While the Supremes declined to make a ruling, the guidance they offered in sending the case back down to a lower court suggested that there was no Get Out Of Jail Free card in the shape of secondary liability protection for network operators who induced copyright infringement.
A message on the Grokster home page today read:
The United States Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that using this service to trade copyrighted material is illegal. Copying copyrighted motion picture and music files using unauthorized peer-to-peer services is illegal and is prosecuted by copyright owners.
There are legal services for downloading music and movies. This service is not one of them.
The page points to a plug for Grokster's forthcoming, legitimate P2P service Grokster 3G.
The record labels are increasingly looking to turn the P2P networks into 'walled gardens', or 'music service providers' (MSPs) where fans can share music inside the network, while artists get a cut of revenue set aside to compensate them. Mashboxx and PlayLouder MSP have both won major label backing.
However, the closure of the marquee names doesn't mean that P2P activity has diminished. After WinMX closed, readers reported that they could import lists of OpenNap servers and continue using the WinMX client - with more content available at high transfer rates than before. ®