As a result, the company argues, it meets the legal standard set by the Supreme Court in 1984, when it ruled that Sony Corp.'s Betamax television recorder was not liable for copyright infringement because it had substantial legal uses.
The entertainment industry's position also was opposed today by other file-sharing firms, major telecommunications companies, electronics makers, and coalitions of computer scientists, inventors, consumer and digital-rights advocacy groups.
Rapper Chuck D is among a group of artists who argue that Web sites for file-sharing allow musicians to reach a larger audience.
(Eric Gaillard -- Reuters)
They argue that holding technology creators, or the companies that handle Internet traffic, liable for the acts of their users would make it too risky for innovators to develop products that have legal uses and which enhance the enjoyment of digital entertainment.
"This case is simply the latest in a long string of instances in which copyright owners, frightened by a new technological development" seek to place restrictions on electronic devices, Internet access services, and even on personal computers to try to prevent piracy, said a filing by the major telephone, wireless and Internet service providers.
Instead, said companies including SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., the entertainment industry can properly continue to sue individual file-swappers who break the law.
The Recording Industry Association of America has sued more than 6,500 people, and announced another 753 suits yesterday, including against some Grokster users.
The telecommunications companies also said Congress should decide how to punish services that exist solely to encourage and enable piracy.
The Distributed Computing Industry Association, which represents file-sharing and other technology firms, said the entertainment industry's real agenda is to protect its monopoly.
Grokster "threatens that monopoly by providing a near cost-free distribution mechanism, which supports far more content than even Web-based distribution systems," the group said.
Other groups filing briefs in support of Grokster's position include the Consumer Electronics Association, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, and Public Knowledge, a digital-rights advocacy group.