New York - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a coalition of groups representing both consumers and industry filed an amicus brief today in the first major lawsuit since MGM v. Grokster against a creator of peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing software, warning that the case has profound implications for the development of new software and hardware.

In Arista v. Lime Wire, the recording industry plaintiffs seek to hold Lime Wire liable for acts of copyright infringement by users of its software. In its amicus brief, EFF urges the court to apply the law in a manner that will not chill technological innovation and to reaffirm that developers should not be held liable for copyright infringement based on misuses of their technology that they did not actively promote.

“It’s crucial that courts continue to protect emerging technologies that are capable of substantial lawful uses, even if they also can be used in less acceptable ways,” said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. “The technology industry, consumers, and copyright owners have all benefited from innovations like the photocopier, the CD burner, the iPod, and the personal computer, notwithstanding the fact that all of them can be misused.”

The Lime Wire lawsuit is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by the recording industry against peer-to-peer filesharing software companies, including past lawsuits against Grokster, Aimster, and Napster.

“Ordinary tasks like offering technical support shouldn’t lead to ruinous copyright liability just because it turns out that some customers are applying a multi-use tool to unlawful purposes,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Michael Kwun. “For example, Adobe shouldn’t have to quiz me to ensure I have the rights to the photo I’m editing before it answers my questions about how to use Photoshop.”

Joining EFF on the brief are the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Home Recording Rights Coalition, the Information Technology Association of America, Public Knowledge, the Special Libraries Association, and the U.S. Internet Industry Association.

For the full amicus brief:


Michael Kwun
Senior Intellectual Property Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation