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Grokster Wins Big in Ninth Circuit 386

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-is-a-big-deal-people dept.
The Importance of writes "Grokster has won big in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the decision: [PDF]. It is a very strong decision, basically bringing the Sony-Betamax decision into the modern age. Of course, the decision does make it clear that if Congress wants to change the law, they can (cough*INDUCE Act*cough). Read the whole thing, the actual opinion is only 18 single-column pages. See also, commentary from Jason Schultz, Ernest Miller, Cory Doctorow, and Ed Felten. And don't forget to thank EFF."
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Grokster Wins Big in Ninth Circuit

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  • WOW (Score:5, Funny)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <`ude.ogacihcu.inmula' `ta' `egnardts'> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:52PM (#10016860) Journal
    Holy fucking shit people. There has to be some kind of a catch. Common sense just doesn't *win* like this. There has to be something wrong.

    --Stephen
    • Re:WOW (Score:3, Insightful)

      by synthparadox (770735)
      Common sense? Huh? What's that? :P We all know that common sense doesn't really exist for us /.ers, cuz that would mean we wouldn't be here right now... we'd be doing something productive (ahhhh!)
    • Re:WOW (Score:2, Interesting)

      by turnstyle (588788)
      "There has to be some kind of a catch"

      The catch is more end-user lawsuits...

      • Re:WOW (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:15PM (#10017111) Homepage Journal

        Good. People distributing copyrighted material without permission of the owners are breaking the law. These distributors are the folks that should end up in court, not the folks writing software with plenty of legal uses. I would much rather have millions of end user lawsuits than laws telling me what kind of software can be written. If Grokster would have lost then every hacker that had ever worked on a piece of software that copied bits (from cp to ftpd) could have been liable for someone else's bad actions.

        Personally I hope that the RIAA is successful in shutting down music file swapping. I can get along without a free copy of the newest Brittney Spears song, but I couldn't live with the type of Internet that the RIAA wants to create through legislation.

        • Re:WOW (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:27PM (#10017768) Homepage Journal
          Personally I hope that the RIAA is successful in shutting down music file swapping.

          Do you really want that? One view is that the RIAA is just a businuess with a just reason to be attempting to prevent copywrite infringment. Another view is that it is an incredibly corrupt organization that exploits musicians, uses it's monopoly on the marketplace to stifle innovation, crush potential competion, promote cultural homogony, and finally subvert the copywrite laws laid down by the founding father of the USA to maintain control of it's IP for perpetuity.

          I hope they die a horrible chapter11 death, so that we can move into the 21st century with a healthy and vibrant music industry. One of the US's largets exports is our culture. When our culture is comprised of nothing but crappy Brittney clones, what do you think is going to happen?
          • Re:WOW (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:36PM (#10018338) Homepage Journal

            I agree that the RIAA is evil, and I likewise agree that their day in the sun is coming to an end. However, I think that the correct way to get rid of the RIAA is for musicians and fans to work around the RIAA middlemen. There are plenty of bands that encourage people to download their music. If you really want to put a stake in the RIAA's heart find a few bands that encourage filesharing that you like, purchase their CDs, and tell your friends.

            Downloading the latest RIAA boy band's newest album on Grokster doesn't do anything but give publicity to RIAA acts. The RIAA pays good money to the radio stations so that folks can hear their music for free. The RIAA doesn't hate P2P because the tunes are free, they hate it because they can't control it. The RIAA companies know that if customers get used to getting their music off of the Internet that their contacts in the radio and retailing businesses are worth a heck of a lot less.

        • Re:WOW (Score:4, Insightful)

          by NanoGator (522640) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @06:56PM (#10018507) Homepage Journal
          "Personally I hope that the RIAA is successful in shutting down music file swapping."

          No, you don't. It's the only competition the RIAA has. Until they lose their oligopoly status, I'd rather the civil disobedience continue. Heck, I wish the RIAA were actally suffering losses at the hands of music trading, sadly that just isn't happening.

          At least we can thank Napster for making iTunes happen.
          • Re:WOW (Score:3, Insightful)

            by NeoSkandranon (515696)
            Filesharing is not civil disobedience. People do not do it openly inviting the consequences nor do they accept those when if or when they come.
        • Re:WOW (Score:4, Interesting)

          by TyrranzzX (617713) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:42PM (#10019553) Journal
          I, for one, would rather see the day where the RIAA/MPAA are long gone and some such business model exists that removes publishers from the content distrobution system completly since they are primarily the problem. It'd be really neat if you could buy music in high quality files for $.10 a pop or buy access to internet radio streams for like $10 a month. Sure, there'll still be piracy, but at least the artists will be getting a good deal of money for their music, and you can include extra's on a website or something.
        • Re:WOW (Score:3, Informative)

          by armando_wall (714879)

          Personally I hope that the RIAA is successful in shutting down music file swapping.

          You meant unauthorized music file swapping, I think.

          There's plenty of (really good) music in the world, folks, not just the VH1 hits. Much of it are made by artists who want to share their creations at no cost (I'm one of them), and P2P is perfect for this task.

          And yes, there is a huge lot of artists wanting to share. Go ahead and do a google search on MOD, S3M, IT and XM songs [google.com]. Oh, the glorious days of trackers!!!

    • Re:WOW (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sneftel (15416) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:57PM (#10016936)
      The catch is that this is a court of appeals. There's no way that the Supreme Court will deny the inevitable certiorari petition that the labels will be filing, which means that today's decision will quickly become moot. The court of appeals is not the appropriate venue to decide a point of law of this magnitude, and it's not going to.
      • Re:WOW (Score:4, Informative)

        by studerby (160802) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:51PM (#10017395)
        The court of appeals is not the appropriate venue to decide a point of law of this magnitude,

        If you'd bother reading the decision, you would realize that the 9th didn't decide any new points of law at all, they're merely applied existing law, particularly the Betamax decision that the Supreme Court back in the '70s.

        The decision is entirely black-letter law, except for applying it to new technologies.

      • Re:WOW (Score:3, Informative)

        by UnknowingFool (672806)
        If you read the decision, the Court of Appeals addresses this point on page 26:

        Indeed, the Supreme Court has admonished us to leave such matters to Congress. In Sony-Betamax, the Court spoke quite clearly about the role of Congress in applying copyright law to new technologies.
    • Re:WOW (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tongo (644233)
      Common sense just doesn't *win* like this.

      Especially with the 9th Circus Court of Appeal.
    • Re:WOW (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shadowlion (18254) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:13PM (#10017098) Homepage
      There has to be some kind of a catch.

      The biggest catch is that the decision explicitly notes that Congress has the ability to render the decision moot by passing more restrictive copyright legislation (e.g., the INDUCE act).

      So even in the "best case" scenario for the companies, where this goes all the way to the US Supreme Court and is affirmed, all Congress has to do is pass the INDUCE act. The decision is overturned, Grokster and company get new lawsuits filed against them, and given how ridiculously broad the INDUCE act is, they will almost certainly lose.

      There's your catch.
      • Re:WOW (Score:5, Informative)

        by sangreal66 (740295) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:18PM (#10017141)
        That is hardly a catch. Congress always has the ability to change laws, that is the purpose of the Congress.
        • Re:WOW (Score:3, Funny)

          by gottafixthat (603767)
          And here I thought the purpose of Congress was to provide balance and be the opposite of Progress. Silly me.
        • Re:WOW (Score:5, Insightful)

          by studerby (160802) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:58PM (#10017518)
          Congress always has the ability to change laws,

          Congress's ability to change copyright law is constrained by the Copyright Clause of the Constitution. For example, they couldn't grant a perpetual copyright (although the current case law is that they can grant a very very long copyright, with no limit yet defined).

          But yes, Congress has a huge degree of flexibility in modifying copyright.

    • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity@@@sbcglobal...net> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:37PM (#10017854) Homepage Journal
      ...when you read what's in there:

      The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the Copyright Owners' immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context.

      Further, as we have observed, we live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet innovation. AT&T Corp. v. City of Portland, 216 F.3d 871, 876 (9th Cir. 1999). The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through wellestablished distribution mechanisms.


      It's exactly what artists and the EFF have been saying all along.
  • by October_30th (531777) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:52PM (#10016869) Homepage Journal
    Wasn't 9th the most overturned appeals court?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Trading the court decision for the latest Jenna Haze porn and 7 mp3s to be named later.
  • Election issue? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Writer (746272) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:53PM (#10016887)
    Does anybody think that the US congress would have second thoughts concerning passing laws with the upcoming election? Or is this just a temporary victory?
  • Hallelujah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tokered (801161) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:53PM (#10016890)
    This is amazing!!!! I am jumping up and down in my office, my coworkers think I am crazy!!!

    Notice that the judge also spoke in support of the Betamax decision!!! Take that Hatch!!!!

    Do you think that this sends a strong statment to Congress? Does this reverse the Napster ruling?

    • by Chordonblue (585047) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:01PM (#10016979) Journal
      First of all, the technology in question must be equally available for non-infringing uses. Napster wasn't. It was specifically designed for MP3 trading, and that's the big reason why it got smacked.

      Secondly, the court decision clearly leaves the door open for Congress to take up the matter. They feel that the court is not able to make decisions about new tech (what they call 'Art') - that's Congress' job. Think they won't be listening to Big Music's dollars? You bet your ass they will.

      Look at the constant extension of copyright in the case of interests like Disney. If Mickey Mouse's copyright gets extended any further they might as well just say, 'Infinity + 1' and be done with it.

      Finally, this still won't prevent you from getting sued by the music and movie industries for sharing their material. All this does is postphone the final decision on PtoP. The question is whether or not Congress will limit the technology to non-infringing uses (almost impossible to do), or ban it altogether (more likely - it's easier).

      • First of all, the technology in question must be equally available for non-infringing uses. Napster wasn't. It was specifically designed for MP3 trading, and that's the big reason why it got smacked.

        Forgive me for my outsider insight, for I've never used napster or any similar class of software technology. As you said, Napster was specifically for MP3 trading. This says nothing of the nature of MP3's, for instance public domain performances or songs distributed through Napster by the copyright holder. In
        • I think the problem was that Napster by definition was an MP3 trading technology. Could it have traded other files? Sure. And it did. All you had to do was rename files to that extension.

          What was attacked by the courts in their case was the centralized directory system. Since Napster was hosting the directory servers, the courts assumed then that it had control over what was going through it's network.

          What the current crop of PtoP apps have done is not limit the types of files being traded. Without limiti
        • by flossie (135232) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:49PM (#10017386) Homepage
          Napster ... technology was equally available for non-infringing uses

          The difference between Napster and Grokster, as explained in the Judge's opinion, is that Napster had a centralised index and were therefore in a "supervisory" role with the ability to prevent copyright infringement on a per-file basis. There is no centralised index for Grokster and the authors of the software do not therefore have a supervisory role. The software developers are unable to prevent individual acts of copyright infringement and therefore they do not have a duty to do so.

          (The judge explains it better, but he used a lot more words to do it)

          Read the PDF, it is surprisingly clearly written and demonstrates that judges do sometimes understand technology!

      • As someone else pointed out, Napster was equally available for non-infringing uses. MP3 can be used to encode non-protected material just as easily as protected material. Further, it was trivial to add an .mp3 extension to your text, video, or other file and use Napster to exchange those.

        More importantly, and thankfully, Congress cannot extend copyright rights to "infinity + 1" though it may seem they are trying at times. The Constitution says that copyright and patent monopolies may be granted for limit

      • Infinity + 1 is still Infinity... (hey, we are all geeks here)

        This decision isn't directly about copyrights. They have no said it is legal to download you favorite musician's mp3.

        What they are saying is that if you do, you are the one breaking the law and not the authors of the software program that you use to download the mp3.
    • If you are *actually* jumping up and down because of this - your co-workers are probably right.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That their only approach now will to be going for the end users...
    Oh Good!
    • That their only approach now will to be going for the end users...
      Oh Good!


      That's who Hatch's minions should be going after - the people using P2P software for illegal purposes. That's not my opinion, mind you, but a statement of fact. Giving someone a copy of a copyrighted work without the copyright holders permission is illegal under current law.

      Whether they actually can stem the P2P trading of "their property" in the digital age remains to be seen, however.

      Soko
  • More proof! (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:54PM (#10016905) Homepage Journal

    Netcraft confirms it: the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is not dying.
    • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:16PM (#10017677)
      Hi, this post is all about the Ninth Circuit Judges, THE REAL NINTH CIRCUIT JUDGES. This post is awesome. My name is Robert and I can't stop thinking about the Ninth Circuit Judges. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet.


      Facts:


      1. The Ninth Circuit Judges are liberals.

      2. Ninth Circuit Judges get overturned ALL the time.

      3. The purpose of the ninth circuit judge is to flip out and create new laws out of thin air.


      Ninth Circuit Judges can decide any cases they want! Ninth Circuit Judges piss off conservatives ALL the time and don't even think twice about it. These guys are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time. I heard that there was this Ninth Circuit Judge who was eating at a smoothie bar. And when some dude dropped his iPod the Ninth Circuit Judge legalized filesharing. My friend Mark said that he saw a Ninth Circuit Judge totally uppercut some law just because the law was passed by a Republican Congress and made no sense.


      And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Fun place to start, and explore, P2P:

    http://www.zeropaid.com/ [zeropaid.com]

  • Read? (Score:4, Funny)

    by baudilus (665036) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:57PM (#10016938)
    HAHA you said 'read the whole thing' LOL

    Like that'll ever happen on slashdot...
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:58PM (#10016945) Homepage
    Orrin Hatch's campaign contributions just grew by hundredfold.
    • Re:In other news (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interiot (50685)
      And the judges practically put a sign [corante.com] in their front yard that said "all brib^H^H^H^Hcontributions should go to Orrin instead":
      • Indeed, the Supreme Court has admonished us to leave such matters to Congress. In Sony-Betamax, the Court spoke quite clearly about the role of Congress in applying copyright law to new technologies. As the Supreme Court stated in that case, "The direction of Art. I is that Congress shall have the power to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. When, as here, the Con
  • by cytoman (792326) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:59PM (#10016957)
    ... about what the whole issue is about would help greatly.

    I've noticed that the tech story summaries are always devoid of any explanatory sentences... just a bunch of tech-talk. Granted that a huge majority of /. readers are techies, but learning to put things in simpler non-tech terms would help commoners understand these news stories.

  • Well it can be argued that (to some extent) Grokster does slightly benefit from piracy, it's not their fault that people don't care about copyrights. Think of it this way: can you legally hold an ISP responsible for one users actions? Ofcourse not, and that's why you will have a hard time trying to successfully sue any of todays P2P software providers. Now if the law changes....
  • Summary of the case (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jack Greenbaum (7020) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:01PM (#10016978) Homepage
    It would have been useful if this post had mentioned what the case was about. Here is the summary paragraph from the PDF:

    This appeal presents the question of whether distributors of peer-to-peer file-sharing computer networking software may be held contributorily or vicariously liable for copyright infringements by users. Under the circumstances presented by this case, we conclude that the defendants are not liable for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement and affirm the district court's partial grant of summary judgment.
  • by NoSuchGuy (308510) <do-not-harvest-m ... dot@spa.mtrap.de> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:07PM (#10017031) Journal
    It's only a matter of time until companies bribes lobby for a new law.

    Reasons for this new law:
    - companies suffer from bad business models
    - terrorists use P2P to communicate
    - terrorists coordinate their attacks with P2P
    - corrupt politicans
    - its a communist thing to share things
    - WMD (This time for real)

    Think about it!

  • Uh oh! (Score:4, Funny)

    by mehaiku (754091) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:07PM (#10017034) Homepage

    I, for one, welcome our new copyright infringing, ip thieving, file-sharing, socialist, everyone-share-and-share alike overlords. I guess the RIAA bribe, I mean campaign contribution, didn't make it through on time.

  • by The_Bagman (43871) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:09PM (#10017061)
    as Felten and others noted on their blogs, the money quote is:
    As to the question at hand, the district court's grant of partial summary judgment to the Software Distributors is clearly dictated by applicable precedent. The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the Copyright Owners' immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context.

    Further, as we have observed, we live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet innovation. AT&T Corp. v. City of Portland, 216 F.3d 871, 876 (9th Cir. 1999). The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through wellestablished distribution mechanisms. Yet, history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine, or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude.

    Indeed, the Supreme Court has admonished us to leave such matters to Congress. In Sony-Betamax, the Court spoke quite clearly about the role of Congress in applying copyright law to new technologies. As the Supreme Court stated in that case, "The direction of Art. I is that Congress shall have the power to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. When, as here, the Constitution is permissive, the sign of how far Congress has chosen to go can come only from Congress." 464 U.S. at 456 (quoting Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp., 406 U.S. 518, 530 (1972)).

  • re: (Score:5, Funny)

    by unformed (225214) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:11PM (#10017083)
    It's April 1st dude.

    Wait, no it's no. WTF? Crap, it's the end of the world, run for your lives!
  • by gvc (167165) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:25PM (#10017207)
    It sounds like the judge read and took to heart Larry Lessig's book, Free Culture [free-culture.cc]. A free download and a must-read!
  • by eidechse (472174) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:27PM (#10017217)
    "From the advent of the player piano, every new means of reproducing sound has struck a dissonant chord with musical copyright owners, often resulting in federal litigation."

    Get down with the catchy metaphor...I like it.

    Is this normal style in opinions or is this rare?
    • Well, at least in Detroit, there seems to be a sense of humor (or at least, wit.)

      A year or two back Marshall Mathers (aka recording artist Eminem) was sued by a childhood bully for defamation. The judge delivered a standard legalese ruling, and also, a rap of the ruling. [freep.com]

      I shit you not.

      Further case details here. [freep.com]

    • by raehl (609729) *
      But court decisions are generally very easy to read, I think mainly because judges don't have any financial incentive to obfuscate. They write what the ruling is in nice plain english.

      Contrast with lawyers paid by the hour, and supposedly paid to do something the client can't do on their own. There you have an incentive to write in a manner beyond the comprehension of your average person. "What? You can't understand this? That's why you need to hire me."

      Personal comment is also fairly common in judic
  • by g_adams27 (581237) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:37PM (#10017294)

    On one hand, this could seriously increase the pressure on Congress to pass an INDUCE-style bill to rip the heart out of P2P programs - something that a lot of Democrats and Republicans are eager to do...

    ... but on the other hand, consumers aren't totally friendless in Congress. Richard Boucher (liberal Democrat) has consistently stood on the side of consumers and is pushing his anti-DMCA bill (the Digital Media Consumer's Rights Act (DMCR)). And Joe Barton (conservative Republican) is the head of the powerful House Energy and Commerce committee. He has publically expressed his opposition to further DMCA/INDUCE-style bills. And since the DMCR is going through his committee, his opinion will count for a lot in this fight.

  • by iamlucky13 (795185) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:53PM (#10017432)
    I have to admit, that article was actually passable, once you got past the "the plaintiffs are...............the defendents are........" part, the initial statement wasn't too hard to read. It even opened with this little gem of an anecdote(pg 9): "From the advent of the player piano, every new means of reproducing sound has struck a dissonant chord with musical copywrite owners, often resulting in federal litigation."

    Better anecdote: If grokster causes people to download, and guns kill people, then spoons cause Americans to be fat.
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:55PM (#10017469) Homepage Journal
    While the US Constitution allows Congress to enact copyright laws, it doesn't actually require it to do so. Not just the DMCA, but copyright itself could be repealed tomorrow if we could get the votes in Congress to do so.

    If you don't think that could happen, consider that there are sixty million peer-to-peer network users in the US, more people than voted for George Bush in 2000. The problem is then how to get all the p2p users to become politically active.

    Find out how in Change the Law [goingware.com], which explores the history of copyright law in the US and suggests several specific steps you can take to bring about much needed copyright reform. The steps range from speaking out to practicing civil disobedience.

    If you feel as I do that more people need to read what I wrote in my article, you can help by linking to it from your own web site, web log, or from message boards.

    Thank you for your attention.

  • by geekotourist (80163) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:55PM (#10017471) Journal
    For all the amazing things they do [eff.org] and things they've done [eff.org] they are a small non-profit. Only a small fraction of Slashdot readers are EFF members because if 1/10th of us joined [eff.org] then it should have 80,000 members. It doesn't. That's a lot of free riders [stanford.edu], or a lot of people who think that none of these issues [eff.org] will ever affect them.

    The EFF is your "freedom to innovate" insurance policy. When you need to argue "Constitutional Rights aren't just the law, they're good ideas. Technological developments aren't just my job, they're a good idea" and you just don't have the time, money or the right words to say it right, the EFF says it for you, and says it very well [eff.org].

    When the MP/RI/XXAA / DMCA takedown letter arrives, 98% of other lawyers or civil rights groups are just going to hear "I work in technobabble, and now I'm being sued for neutrino transducer violations because of warp field coil incompatibility with carnivore but it really is a 4th amendment issue because of eiozh bhpaceog phshzt!..." when you call them up.

    When you call the EFF up with your 'intersection of technology with legal rights' legal problem, the EFF will actually understand the issue [eff.org] and will want to help you. And, if they can afford to help you they will- but for that they need money. That means donations ahead of time. That's why you should support the EFF [eff.org] now. $2/week gets you the spiffy hat [eff.org], or $2.09 /month the nifty bumpersticker AND 1st Amendment Rights carried into Cyberspace. Ask for 'Short' instead of Venti once in a while: you know you aren't supposed to have your caffeine all at once anyways [psychologytoday.com]. Or just drink regular coffee with cream and a little splenda. Not only do you save $, you'll lose #s (weight, not octothorpes). Protected rights & a smaller waistline: $2/week, $2/month. Best.Insurance.Ever.

    Full Disclosure: I've met many of the EFF's staff [eff.org], so I know how dedicated they are. Their staff attorneys aren't making much more than paralegals might make at the big corporate law firms. They're the not-profit, and We profit from their existance (are you listening- any encryption exporting companies [eff.org]? this includes You). So donate!

  • by Tired and Emotional (750842) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:05PM (#10017585)
    While as a musician myself I hate to see musicians getting ripped off, in reality, the software in question only makes simpler something that can be done with a fair amount of ease without the software (think ftp and a bulletin board) so if the decision had gone the other way it would have been a legal recognition of luddism.

    What musicians need to do is find ways to use these systems to sell product, and from the judgement it seems some are already doing just that.

    Does anyone here have personal experience of using the systems in this way that they can share?

  • by jbash (784046) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:11PM (#10017629)
    Thought I would plug these guys. http://furthurnet.org/ [furthurnet.org] Great place, especially if you're into jambands-- but it's all live music from bands with taper-friendly policies. They're very anal about making sure no copyright violating material goes out on the network.
  • If only... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Madcapjack (635982) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @05:44PM (#10017919)
    If only we could peer to peer money. Now that would be a new economic system!
  • by mhollis (727905) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @08:00PM (#10018835) Journal

    Orrin Hatch wants to destroy your computer in order to please his friends (read campaign contributors) in the recording and movie industry. This particular reactionary thought it might be a good idea for those who feel their copyright is being infringed by these decentralized perr-to-peer networks ought to be legally able to write virus code that will destroy users' computers.

    On the other hand there's Elliot Spitzer, Attorney General of the State of New York who found that many artists and writers were not being paid royalties because record companies had failed to maintain contact with the performers and had stopped making required payments. [state.ny.us]

    I have a very good friend who is a CPA and worked as an auditor for a large CPA firm here in NYC. One particularly famous rock band from Long Island (long since broken up) had a member not too long ago who ran into a rather obnoxious member of the press (read papparizzi) who shoved him, then sued him when he struck back (he only hit him because he was trying to recover hos balance, honest).

    The band member contacted their lawyer, who he had not spoken to for years due to the band's breakup. The lawyer told him that it would cost $5,000 to represent him and when could he expect the check?

    The former rocker's answer was, "But I'm broke!

    The lawyer rummaged around a bit and pulled out a standard contract which has a paragraph indicating that the band may audit the record company's books at any time and that the expense must be borne by the recording company if the band felt that there was any malfeasance.

    The lawyer then asked the band member when the last time he had received a royalty check was.

    The band member recalled the last one came in (and was all-too quickly spent) seven years before.

    The lawyer suggested that the band had a strong case for malfeasance, as he, himself had seen someone purchase a CD of the band's music himself within the last year. My friend (the CPA) was hired and they found that the company typically under-reported album (later CD) sales when the band was active by 20%. Additionally, the recording company was on the hook for seven years of pretty good sales of the CDs made by the band as well as one anthology that the record company had produced that the band didn't know about.

    This gave the band enough cash to put a little away in investments and also to initiate a comeback tour that was quite successful in both raising quick cash from venues as well as increasing their CD sales.

    The RIAA says that the sales of CDs are dropping and that it's caused by peer networks. The movie industry said that fewer people were going to the movies and were purchasing videos and laserdiscs (later DVDs) because of home copying and later peer networks. I just cannot believe these theves.

    Could the real reason why they say their sales are down be because they are underreporting sales in order to screw artists? Or is it that the current distribution model prevents anything compelling to the audience from ever being released? I wonder as I watch all of the caterwauling about copyright. Could it be that the only revenue stream they can come up with is through litigation instead of developing and releasing compelling content?

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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