The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that Internet file-sharing services may be sued by movie studios, a decision that could effectively shut down services widely used to view movies without paying and to watch TV shows stripped of advertising.
The case, MGM Studios v Grokster, was among the most closely watched technology cases since 1984, when the high court established the legality of the video-cassette recorder. On Monday, the justices decided services such as Grokster may be sued if the services encourage illegal file-swapping.
The verdict amounted to a victory for movie studios, TV networks and other content companies that feared their movies, sitcoms, dramas and other products would be distributed without effective control to whoever has a computer and access to a high-speed line.
In another closely-watched media case, the justices decided cable operators need not grant competing independent Internet-service providers access to the high-speed cable modems many consumers use to access the Internet.
Cable companies argued their privately built systems should not be regulated. The Internet service providers said access needs to be widely available for the Web to remain an open, vibrant medium…