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The recording industry was dancing to the sweet music of victory in June, when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in its favor in MGM Studios Inc. v. Grokster. But a post-verdict depression may be on the way, if the results of IP Law & Business‘s informal survey of 38 IP lawyers and professors are any indication. In Grokster, the Court ruled that Grokster, Ltd., and Streamcast Networks, Inc., can be held liable for distributing software that allows users to share copyrighted music. The case now goes back to the trial court, where a jury will determine whether Grokster and Streamcast actively encouraged users to infringe copyrights. How much money will this and future court battles cost the recording industry in its continued attempts to eradicate piracy? (That includes the 784 lawsuits the Recording Industry Association of America filed in June against individuals.) Will the industry be able to recoup those costs now that Grokster and Streamcast have been blown out by the Supremes? Or is the Grokster decision a money pit, a dressed-up invitation to spend money on lawyers? To get an idea, IP Law & Business asked around, eliciting unscientific guesses on how much added revenue the music business will see in Grokster‘s wake, compared with the amount they will need to spend on attorneys’ fees. By a wide margin — more than 4 to 1 — IP lawyers and scholars cite law firms as the true financial beneficiaries of the Grokster decision. Most scoff at any positive revenue impact for the music biz. Fifteen of the surveyed IP lawyers and professors said the music business would not see as much as a dime, while just ten said “very little.” Not everyone is so dour. Thirteen of those questioned guessed that the record business would see significant sales gains. Temple Law School professor David Post provided the highest estimate, predicting $500 million in added yearly revenue. Ka-ching? Not so fast. “The Grokster decision presumably sounded the death knell for these [peer-to-peer file-sharing] types,” says Fish & Richardson’s J. Kevin Gray, who believes the music industry will stave off losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year to online piracy. But new file-sharing services will emerge, he says: “The music industry might be spending more, much more, in an effort to protect its copyrights.” Most respondents agreed with Davis Munck’s Daniel Venglarik, who predicts that the recording industry will go to Sisyphean lengths, filing as many as 4,000 cases a year against Grokster’s successors. “During this time, file-sharing will continue to evolve as it did after Napster, such that each victory will be outdated before the ink is dry on the opinion,” says Venglarik.

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