Truly decentralised peer-to-peer (P2P) software can't be held accountable for its misuse, according to a US federal appeals court.
In the concluding paragraphs of the decision,
Justice Sidney R. Thomas wrote:
"From the advent of the player piano, every new means of
reproducing sound has struck a dissonant chord with musical
copyright owners, often resulting in federal litigation. This
appeal is the latest reprise of that recurring conflict, and one
of a continuing series of lawsuits between the recording
industry and distributors of file-sharing computer software."
"[W]e live in a quicksilver technological
environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of
internet innovation....The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well-established distribution mechanisms," the court wrote. "Yet history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude."