And who said Betamax had no future? Who should be held liable for the copyright infringements occuring on peer-to-peer networks -- the networks or the people who use them? That's the question the U.S. Supreme Court will decide when it hears a case filed by the music and film industries against two file-sharing outfits -- Grokster and StreamCast. On Friday, the high court agreed to hear oral arguments in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster -- a case that could shape the future of content delivery in the digital age. This spring, the court will review a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found that distributors of P2P software could not be held liable for "contributory" or "vicarious" infringements. To arrive at that conclusion, the appeals court relied heavily on a 1984 Supreme Court ruling that shielded Sony from copyright infringement charges arising from illegal use of its VCR technology. That ruling, known as the Betamax decision, did much to promote technological innovation. It's certain to figure prominently in the court's consideration, and will perhaps even get a bit of an overhaul -- which could be dangerous business. "There's a lot more at stake here for the technology industry than for the copyright industry," said Fred von Lohmann, an Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney who has represented StreamCast Networks on the issue. "This case will not be determinant of the future of peer to peer around the world, but it will be determinant of the future of a whole host of future digital products." Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy group agreed. "The big content companies are trying to accomplish in this case what they have failed to do in the 20 years since Betamax, and what they have failed this year to accomplish in Congress - to put restrictions on new technologies that suit their purposes not the needs of consumers. The evidence that file-sharing has significantly hurt the large content companies is very thin. But the trade-off of giving content companies more control over the development of technologies and of overturning Betamax, would be very significant and very harmful to consumers and to our economy."