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June 27, 2005

Grokster ruling could chill funding of upstarts

Steve Rosenbush

Could the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in the Grokster case, which says big media companies have the right to sue the pants off of file-sharing networks, make it harder for startups to raise cash? You betcha! Attorneys say the ruling will pave the way for an unexpected array of lawsuits. In Provo, Utah, for example, an 11-year-old boy known as "Timmy" faces a potential lawsuit because he gave away the ending of Batman Begins to a classmate over the weekend. Intellectual property experts say they believe Timmy's friend had no legal right to know the ending of the movie, because he didn't pay for a ticket. Timmy's friend also may be held liable, because he encouraged Timmy to give away the ending. Legal experts further say that based on Monday's historic ruling, it may be possible to limit the number of times consumers are allowed to recall a film or song in their own private thoughts.
Given the new emphasis on intellectual property rights, it likely will be some time before any startup raises enough cash to challenge big media.

06:34 PM


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