Interview With the President of Grokster

By Ciarán Tannam 4/30/03

Last week marked an historic step in the record industries battle against P2P with the summary judgement issued by Judge Wilson in favour of Grokster Ltd and Streamcast Networks. Slyck has spoken exclusively to Wayne Rosso the outspoken President of Grokster Ltd about the summary judgement and other issues...

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Slyck Ciarán: Firstly, tell us your reaction to the extremely important summary judgement.

Grokster: We at Grokster are obviously very happy with the Judge’s decision. The Court recognized that our file-sharing software has numerous legal and beneficial uses. This opinion lifts the cloud the plaintiffs have attempted to cast over innovation and investment. It makes clear that innovators will not be held liable for creating or investing in new technologies. This ruling also means that the labels and studios cannot ban 21st-century technology in defence of their inefficient and outmoded 20th-century distribution models

Slyck Ciarán: What is the next step in the lawsuit for you?

Grokster: The plaintiffs have commented publicly that they intended to appeal the ruling, so we assume they will and we will, of course, fight the appeal.

Slyck Ciarán: Janus Friis recently told Slyck that "Grokster is an older customized version of KMD/FT" and that older versions "supernode server to fetch seed IP addresses when not available locally". The verdict seemed to clear Gokster Ltd of operating any supernode server. Can you categorically say that Grokster does not need a supernode server and if not how does it fetch the location of supernodes when not availably locally?

Grokster: Grokster does not operate a Supernode server or a server with IP addresses or any type of server that interfaces in any way with the operation of Grokster or FastTrack with the exception of ad serving via the Start page. Grokster does not need a Supernode server to operate.

Slyck Ciarán: A side note in the summary judgement said that Sharman/Kazaa BV operates one such superode server/root supernode. Do you believe this statement to be accurate?

Grokster: We have no information as to whether they do or do not.

Slyck Ciarán: What is your understanding of how Morpheus was removed from the FastTrack network. Could the same not be done to Grokster?

Grokster: Some time after this occurred we found out that Kazaa and Grokster were issued upgrades to the communication encryption protocols and Morpheus was not, so the Morpheus clients could no longer communicate with the other programs

Slyck Ciarán: How is your relationship with those who own the FastTrack protocol. Why have they not supplied you with updates to the FT software in recent months? Were they annoyed by your postings of "we do not have an brilliant digital software" on your homepage as they have a direct interest in Altnet.

Grokster: fine (!)

Slyck Ciarán: A lot was made in the media about you speech at the Financial Times new media conference recently. You used the opportunity to attack the recoding industry for not licensing their music to P2P companies like yourself. Tell us more about why you think they should licence music to Grokster?

Grokster: It's not so much that they should license to Grokster, it's more a call for blanket compulsory licensing of some kind. At the moment content licensing negotiations are a one-way street. And what has happened is that record companies have used their content to slow the growth of ecommerce and the Internet until they can figure out how to co-opt the technology. Simply put, they want to own or control the technology themselves.

Slyck Ciarán: Anything else you would like to say to Slyck readers?

Grokster: Yes. Thanks for your support during this long court battle and we hope that you continue to use Grokster. I've gotten many emails from Grokster users congratulating us on our victory and I'd like to thank them as well. You're all terrific!

Slyck would like to thank Wayne Rosso for taking time out to do this interview.


Ciarán and Tom from are regular contributers to MP3 Newswire. Their insights on other digital music issues can be read on his site and we encourage you to check it out.

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