Supreme Court Session Closes – Hollywood Wins Big, Reporters Lose, Ten Commandments Split

Here’s some of the notable decisions announced on the last day of the Supreme Court session.

June 27 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Supreme Court bolstered the entertainment industry’s anti-piracy campaign, saying Grokster Ltd. and other Internet file-sharing networks may bear responsibility when users illegally download music and films.

The unanimous ruling today revives efforts by Time Warner Inc., Walt Disney Co. and other media companies to make those file-sharing systems block unauthorized downloads. It reverses a lower court ruling that threw out most of the industry’s copyright suit against Grokster and StreamCast Networks Inc.

The court said substantial evidence” supported the industry’s case.

This may be good news for individuals targeted by industry lawsuits, but it’s a preemptive death sentence for anyone developing software that allows peer to peer (P2P) file sharing.

In the Valerie Plame investigation, two journalists refusal to disclose their anonymous source will likely land them in jail.

NEW YORK (Editor&Publisher) — The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of journalists Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller, who have been held in contempt for refusing to disclose who leaked the identity of a CIA agent to them.

The court’s decision not to take the case, which could have led to a major precedent for the rights of reporters to keep sources confidential, means that Miller and Cooper, who were ordered to jail for their actions, will likely have to surrender sometime soon.

The case is now expected to return to the district court level, where judge Hogan, who offered the initial contempt ruling, would have to hold a hearing before any jailing would occur, Attorney Floyd Abrams, who represents Miller, told Editor&Publisher last week.

The ACLU’s drive to eliminate religion from public spaces was dealt a blow and scored a win all in the same day.

June 27 (Bloomberg)— Government officials can post the Ten Commandments on public property in some contexts, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a pair of high-stakes church-state rulings.

The court, voting 5-4, today approved a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, rejecting arguments that the state was unconstitutionally favoring religion. In a second case, the court ruled 5-4 that two Kentucky counties were too focused on promoting religion when they posted framed copies of the commandments in courthouses.

The decisions will help guide government officials who want to display religious symbols. The rulings will affect the legal status of thousands of statues, murals, monuments and other displays that already are in place around the country.

That clears things up… not. Displays of the Ten Commandments now appear to be legal so long as those placing them aren’t endorsing their content…

There was no word from the bench on possible retirements from either Chief Justice William Rehnquist or Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Links to the decisions are available at SCOTUSblog, as well as to additional coverage. More from Jeff Quinton.

Update: I’ve thought more on the phrase “preemptive death sentence” for developers here.

I'd rather be a chickenhawk than a chickensh*t
Darwin strikes again


  1. mcg June 27, 2005
  2. mcg June 27, 2005
  3. lawhawk June 27, 2005
  4. McGehee June 27, 2005
  5. Squawkbox June 28, 2005