Tue Jan 13, 2009 @ 02:41PM PST
By Eriq Gardner
The U.S. Supreme Court doesn't get its hands dirty with copyright cases very often. The last major copyright case it touched was Grokster
four years ago, when the justices decided that a peer-to-peer file-sharing service could be held liable for inducing infringement.
That case seems eons ago, however, as questions linger about the liability of digital services with legitimate business aims and a willingness to respond to infringement notices. Last year, a case brought by entertainment studios against Cablevision became the one to watch, after a 2nd Circuit overturned a lower court's decision and ruled that a plan to offer customers remote digital video storage didn't violate copyright. That decision was appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court as Hollywood waited on baited breath to hear if cert would be granted.
No decision has yet been made, but today, the U.S. Supreme Court made a strong signal that it indeed is very interested in the case. The high court has asked for the government's view on this dispute, inviting
the Solicitor General to file an amicus brief.
The dispute involves some extremely tricky questions, including what constitutes a "copy" and whether infringing acts must be willful. Both sides of the case are well represented with lobbying interests in the nation's capitol, so it's hard to get a read on what side the government favors. It very well could punt on this one, leading the justices on their own to settle a path-breaking case.