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MGM v. Grokster Date Set 163

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the high-noon dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Supreme Court has set March 29th as the date for oral arguments to begin in the Grokster trial. As we all know the final ruling will have ramifications on the tech world well beyond P2P. A decision is expected by end of July."
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MGM v. Grokster Date Set

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  • yeah, yeah; whoring~ (Score:5, Informative)

    by tektek (829733) on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:21AM (#11429136) Homepage
    Date Set for Morpheus/Grokster

    By Jon Newton 1/20/05

    March 29 is the date set for oral arguments in MGM v Grokster when the major movie studios and Big Music cartel will once again try to force a decision saying p2p companies can be held responsible if customers use their p2p software to infringe copyrights.

    The entertainment industry has already lost once on this in District Court, and again at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    But Hollywood won't take an unequivocal court decision for an answer and is now trying to bludgeon the US the Supreme Court into reversing.

    "The lower court rulings were based on the Supreme Court's landmark decision in the 1984 Sony Betamax case, which determined that Sony was not liable for copyright violations by users of the Betamax VCR," says the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) which is representing Morpheus owner StreamCast Networks.

    A final decision is expected by the end of July 2005.


    • The **AA are really suing because of copy infringement etc.

      I think they are mostly pissed off that Grokster (and Napster back in the day) are making money off the P2P software.

      The **AA must be so steamed that not only does Grokster make money off of ad sales, but they have the nerve to sell a 'pro' version.

      Notice how they haven't gone after Justin Frankell for writing Waste (or Gnutella for that matter) and they've ignored Bram Cohen even though Bittorrent takes up a significant portion of internet bandwidt

      • They haven't gone after Bram Cohen yet. You just try first with the guys who are making money off the P2P program to see if you can put some liability on them, then keep sliding down the slippery slope until you can nail the guy whose program is used for notorious legal purposes (Linux ISOs, World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, game demos in a few gaming websites come to mind). Just wait.
      • First they came out for Napster
        and I did not speak out because I was not Napster
        Then they came out for 1-2-3 Studios
        and I did not speak out, because I was not 1-2-3 Studios
        Then they came out for Grokster
        and I did not speak out, because I was not Grokster
        Then they came for me,
        and I squished them..who are they kidding, I'm Microsoft!
  • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by psi42 (747491) on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:22AM (#11429139)
    Anyone want to place a bet? :)
  • 1984 Decision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeffkjo1 (663413) on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:23AM (#11429142) Homepage
    While the original Betamax case was over 20 years ago now, there are three current justices on the Supreme Court who presided over the original case.
    O'Connor and Stevens voted in favor of Sony
    and Rehnquist voted against.

    Source [wikipedia.org]

    It will be interesting to see how this case turns out.
    • Re:1984 Decision (Score:5, Informative)

      by jeffkjo1 (663413) on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:27AM (#11429161) Homepage
      Some additional information.
      Justice Kennedy was sitting on the 9th Circuit appeals court in 1983-84, when this case was originally heard at the federal level. The 9th Circuit voted against Sony, although I have been unable to find how individual Judges voted in the case.
      • I says right in the Wiki article mentioned above, had you actually read it:

        1. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Sony, with Stevens, Burger, Brennan, O'Connor, and White in agreement, and Marshall, Powell, Rehnquist, and Blackmun dissenting. The court held, among other things, that "The sale of the VTR's [video tape recorders] to the general public does not constitute contributory infringement of respondents' copyrights."

        • Re:1984 Decision (Score:2, Insightful)

          by LittleBigLui (304739)
          Funny... when i read "in favor of Sony" up there i immediately interpreted it as "against VTRs".

          The public perception of Sony (well, at least my perception of Sony) seems to have changed a bit over the last years.
        • Re:1984 Decision (Score:3, Informative)

          by ari_j (90255)
          As much as it would like to believe the contrary, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, to which the parent referred, is not the United States Supreme Court. Had you actually read the comment to which you replied, you would know that.
      • Re:1984 Decision (Score:5, Informative)

        by David Price (1200) on Friday January 21, 2005 @03:05AM (#11429306)
        The Ninth Circuit, like all the circuit courts of appeals, hears cases in three-judge panels. The panel in the Betamax case consisted of Judges Kilkenny and Canby, plus a district court judge named East who was sitting by designation (basically, district judges occasionally sit on appellate panels, and in this case, that happened.) That panel unanimously found Sony liable for distributing the VCR. (If you happen to have a law library nearby, the citation is 659 F.2d 963.)

        The Ninth Circuit then denied en banc rehearing, meaning that it refused to rehear the case before a panel of all the circuit judges. The Supreme Court took the case and reversed the panel, 5-4.

        Justice Kennedy was apparently never involved in the Betamax case at any level.
        • Re:1984 Decision (Score:2, Informative)

          by ari_j (90255)
          Justice Kennedy was apparently never involved in the Betamax case at any level.

          I concur. ;) That's what I found, scanning said citation of the 9th's opinion.
    • It'll also be unlikely that Rehnquist will still be presiding then, his health is failing, he is under chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I doubt that the Justices will find the Betamax ruling precedent for a pro-Grokster ruling.
      • It'll also be unlikely that Rehnquist will still be presiding then

        Rehnquist has made it clear that he will not actively participate in the court and he will abstain from every decision EXCEPT when the other justices reach a 4-4 tie; only then will he step in to cast the deciding vote.
      • Re:1984 Decision (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zondar (32904) on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:53AM (#11429265)
        "I doubt that the Justices will find the Betamax ruling precedent for a pro-Grokster ruling."

        How could they not? In each case, the offending person is using a piece of technology to distribute copyrighted materials to which they have no right to distribute.

        1) Two VCRs sitting next to each other, one set to record and the other to play, connected via RF cables.

        2) One VCR attached to a wireless RF video distribution device set to play, ten VCRs attached to RF receivers set to record.

        3) One computer playing a song via it's audio out jack, one computer recording via the audio in jack.

        4) One computer hosting an audio file via a network, 100,000 computers receiving that file.

        In each case, the mechanism of distribution changes, but the core principle stays the same. The Betamax case found the creators of the distribution mechanism not liable for the unlawful use (copying copyrighted materials without permission) of it's users.

        Of course, there are huge differences. The original case somewhat hinged on the right of Fair Use -- a right the **AA has been trying to destroy at every turn. They believe the only "fair" use is when you pay them for each playback of the content.

        In addition, there was no such thing as the DMCA. We can only hope that if / when they try to bring up the DMCA as an argument, the court finally gets a whack at it and declares it unconstitutional (or at least inconsistent with pre-existing fair use right declarations).
        • Actually this case should be stronger than the original Betamax case. In Betamax the MPAA was fighting the very notion that timeshifting was fair use. In this case the RIAA has stipulated in court that a wide range of content and P2P use is indisputeable legitimate. Not merely fair use, but simply non-infringing.

          -
        • Re:1984 Decision (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dirk (87083)
          Well, the big difference I see is that there was no distribution in the Sony case. It allowed someone to make a copy, that's all. Grokster does not allow you to make a copy, it allows you to distribute copies to a theoretically unlimited amount of people. You're computer allows you to make a copy of a DVD (and I believe the jury is still out whether making a copy for yourself is legal). Grokster allows you to distribute that copy to other people.

          Plus, even if the Sony case had covered distribution, the
          • Grokster does not allow you to make a copy, it allows you to distribute copies to a theoretically unlimited amount of people. You're computer allows you to make a copy of a DVD (and I believe the jury is still out whether making a copy for yourself is legal). Grokster allows you to distribute that copy to other people.

            By that logic, a car allows you to distribute drugs to a theoretically unlimited amount of people. Quite frankly, they're going to have a helluva time outlawing P2P while not outlawing TCP/I
          • Grokster does not allow you to make a copy, it allows you to distribute copies to a theoretically unlimited amount of people.

            So does FTP.

            So does a web page.

            So does NNTP.

            So does a mailing list.

            That Grokster et al make it easier than the other choices does not change the underlying legal principle (in my non-lawyer opinion). I could fire off an email with an MP3 of a copyrighted song attached to it to everyone in my address book. That's copyright infringement, no question. Why should the maker of my

          • Grokster does not allow you to make a copy, it allows you to distribute copies to a theoretically unlimited amount of people.

            Technically, it does not distribute to others. It merely offers to others the ability to pull the data themselves.

            It's the difference between passing out CDs on the street corner to anyone who passes by and having a kiosk that will let people burn a copy of the CD themselves by inserting a blank. The device is a distribution device. It can be used to distribute the owner's origi
            • "When does the scale change something from legal to illegal anyway? Stealing 5 dollars and stealing 5 million dollars are both crimes. When does non-liability for selling a device with non-infringing uses on the small scale become liabilty for selling a more capable device with non-infringing uses on the large scale?"

              The law isn't binary like this -- if you steal $5, it's petty theft, you won't get nay jail time for that. If you steal $5e6, well, then that's grand theft, and it's a felony, and you'll like
          • Well, the big difference I see is that there was no distribution in the Sony case. It allowed someone to make a copy, that's all. Grokster does not allow you to make a copy, it allows you to distribute copies to a theoretically unlimited amount of people.

            With each individual ending up with a copy. Hence, it facilitates making a copy.

            Distributing the same copy multiple times means the same as making a copy since you end up with a different copy than the one offered up. It's not a single copy that gets p

    • Just a note to those discussing this - the Betamax case was before Sony was seduced by the Dark Side, and the company was the "good guy" in that case. Is Sony any part of the RIAA or MPAA? Has this come full circle?
      • by tepples (727027)

        Is Sony any part of the RIAA or MPAA?

        Now that Universal and Warner have sold off their record label assets, Sony is the only company that is both a major record label and a major movie studio.

      • This really came "full circle" a few years back in a bunch of lawsuits nicknamed "Sony vs Sony". See this cNet article for details [com.com].

        (The gist of it: Sony Music, as a member of the RIAA was up against the Consumer Electronics Association, of which Sony Electronics is a member, as well as some companies which Sony is an investor...)
    • Either way we can call it a 1984 decision...
      if they vote pro grockster it's a 1984 betamax decision style 1984, and if they vote against, it's a George Orwell [online-literature.com] style 1984 decision...
      "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU..."

  • >The entertainment industry has already lost once on this in District Court, and again at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    So this is the third attempt and one at the supreme court too.. When will these people give up ?. Of course the Betamax case [eff.org] clearly puts the distributors of the technology (which has clearly legal uses) out of the danger area.

    They already have a date for the decision (July 2005), now if only they'd tell what decision they paid for :)

    • Uhm.. They'll give up based on what the Supreme Court says. There is no higher court in the US. And anything they say becomes law. They are the ones that keep US Citizen's rights and the ones that revoke them.
      • by tepples (727027)

        They'll give up based on what the Supreme Court says.

        No, [house.gov] they won't [senate.gov].

      • ...They'll give up based on what the Supreme Court says. There is no higher court in the US. And anything they say becomes law....

        Does anyone have a constitutional problem with this statement? I for one am forced to agree with the poster that in fact the Supreme Court's decisions have, in effect (if not in practice also) basically made laws. However, the Constitution clearly grants the power to make laws to congress.

        I am disturbed by the idea that judges base their decisions in a case, not on laws the

        • Does anyone have a constitutional problem with this statement?

          Well, it's not all that accurate. It'd be better to say that their interpretation of the law becomes strongly binding. (later courts can go against it, but ultimately this'll result in the S.Ct. overturning, or affirming and changing their interpretation)

          I for one am forced to agree with the poster that in fact the Supreme Court's decisions have, in effect (if not in practice also) basically made laws.

          Well, there is a federal common law. B
    • Of course the Betamax case clearly puts the distributors of the technology (which has clearly legal uses) out of the danger area.

      Betamax was a pure hardware device, a simple video recorder. It was not a program library, a catalog, or a distribution system. Dangerous to assume that the court will regard the Betamax decision as controlling.

      • The Betamax ruling was that the maker of a product - and the court repeatedly used the word product - which was "capable of substantial noninfringing uses" was not liable for any infringment which may or may not be commited by people who use that product.

        I'd be absolutely facinated to hear any logic how and why a different liability standard would exist between "software products" and "hardware products".

        The only reasons I can see for this new case to go any differently would be emotional bias (if they fi
        • ...I don't see how they could reasonably do that without effectively throwing VCRs back into contributory infringment for the infringment committed with them. But who knows? Maybe we'll wind up with an "infringment tax" slapped on all new VCRs.

          Agreed. What's even better is that this has a very nasty flip side -- if, due to this ruling, all home recording devices become infringement and we must pay a "tax" on them, recording now becomes very legal. (You know, like the Canadian CD levy.)

          <disclaimer>IAN

        • The Betamax ruling was that the maker of a product - and the court repeatedly used the word product -

          It is a mistake to rest all your hopes on how a single word was used in a particular case. The Supreme Court tends to pull back sharply from too careless or sweeping a generalization.

          Betamax was still nothing more than a video recorder. It presented the same legal problems as a photocopier, fax machine, etc., and that is how the issue would have been framed before the Court in the eighties.

          A P2P network i

          • There may be a centralized file library or clearing house, something of the sort.

            If you want to turn to an individual "centralized file library or clearing house" engaged in infringment that would be a completely seperate case against someone else.

            We still have substantial non-infringing files and non-infringing use for various "centralized file libraries or clearing houses", and for the product itself.

            I still don't see how you're claiming to make a distinction.

            The Court may be ready to decide that th
  • I've got an idea. We could rename p2p to something else. You know, kinda like how solicitors get around the no-call list. After all, they're not soliciting, their giving me "curtisy calls".
    • /. loves p2p (Score:3, Informative)

      by Benaiah (851593)
      I think most /.ers will agree with me that p2p has become the life blood of the internet. Even look at the World of Warcraft patch distribution system. Its p2p! Should they be sued? Im sure many of the unenlightened solicitors would say AYE!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How about TPFKAP2P (The Program Formerly Known As P2P)?
    • monsters Inc.... WE SCARE COS WE CARE :) P2P We SHARE cos we care... lets call it love spread or some random crap ... like carezilla hahhahaha
    • I suggest we name it Rosen-Valenti Love Child.

      -
    • Just remember: It's not P2P, it's distributed client-server!
    • by Kjella (173770)
      ...at least the one in the CA bill recently, and essentially a P2P program is defined as a program capable of both upload and download. Like say your browser (http upload forms), email client, basicly everything people consider to be the Internet. The only thing that wouldn't qualify are the dumb terminals of the 70s. It is a blanket coverage to take out whichever application bugs them.

      Kjella
      • I read the definition...at least the one in the CA bill recently, and essentially a P2P program is defined as a program capable of both upload and download.

        In precisely those words, "upload" and "download"?

        I have yet to see a P2P program that allows someone to upload a file onto another's machine, in the original, technical sense of the word. Everyone pulls files, i.e. is downloading. No one is uploading.

        Anthropomorphizing the machines as the actors is not proper usage of the upload/download terminolo
  • and put the smackdown on the **AA for good.

    This could easily turn into a case as important as Sony/Betamax. Probably even more so because it will be a more recent ruling and will become cited more often on this topic since it basically deals with the same issues.
  • by saskboy (600063) on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:29AM (#11429168) Homepage Journal
    I hope an independent film maker is making a documentary about this event. I mean it's perfect for an Indie film It's got a big bad business, a large maybe-bad business, and they are duking it out in the courts.

    And after it's all over, they can distribute it in OGG format using Bit Torrent.
    • Yes, an independendt film maker doing a documentary could easily get distributed using BitTorrent, but..using footage from anywhere [theglobeandmail.com] would stab him in the back echonomically... oh, the irony
      • Yes, an independendt film maker doing a documentary could easily get distributed using BitTorrent, but..using footage from anywhere would stab him in the back echonomically... oh, the irony

        Completly ironic, considering that this is exactly the opposite of what copyright (at least in the US) is ment to achieve.
    • which one is big bad, and which one is maybe bad? I'm guessing that since grokster has a large base of users, is probably over 99% illegal, and has a rather foolish name, it's the "big bad". Meanwhile, the completely legal company MGM, whose products don't suck most of the time, could still be evil were there to be a twist in the story, so it comes out to a maybe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:30AM (#11429169)
    It's going to take them four months to write "Shut the fuck up, MGM"?
  • patent parallel (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    doesn't this case have the same problem as the s/w patents case?

    IE, a s/w program is simply an algorithm. If you invent an algorithm and someone else uses that for something 'bad', then what has that got to do with you?

    Think of how many mathematical formulae were used to invent the atom bomb. Is/are the invertor/s of those formulae somehow responsible?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, don't even think about picking up that knife either. Or crowbar. Or ethernet cord. Or rock. Or pinecone - hell, even that stick and your shoe. And don't you fucking dare pick up that piece of paper. You MIGHT just give me a papercut!
    • IE, a s/w program is simply an algorithm. If you invent an algorithm and someone else uses that for something 'bad', then what has that got to do with you?

      plenty, if you market a program for a particular use, or are in a position to control how a program is used, or have reason to know it will be abused.

      courts as a rule don't think in terms of abstractions, but of actions and consequences in the real world.

      • :Coughs:
        Rip, Mix and Burn?
        Now that was a hell of an ad campaign.
      • "Plenty, if you market a program for a particular use, or are in a position to control how a program is used, or have reason to know it will be abused."

        Tobacco, guns, and numerous other implements in our society fit this description. Even fast-food.

        P2P is a file transfer protocal. Let's be clear on this. P2P IS A FILE TRANSFER PROTOCOL. Just like ftp, smtp, http, etc., these are all just ways to facilitate transferring data from point a to point b.

        P2P has nothing to do with "piracy". Nor was it's origina
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I love America and everything, but he who has the deeper pockets ultimately wins.
  • by ravenspear (756059) on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:38AM (#11429197)
    The following quote at the end of the 9th Circuit's opinion really sums up the situation quite well.

    "Further, as we have observed, we live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet innovation. The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well-established 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."
    • The only problem is that the 9th Circuit is the most-reversed circuit there is. Their logic here is good and their result is just, but that doesn't mean they won't find out that they were wrong once again.
      • In percentage? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        The only problem is that the 9th Circuit is the most-reversed circuit there is.

        Is that by number of cases reversed, or is it by percentage of cases reversed? Some circuits just hear more appellate cases than other circuits. For example, if you have 100 cases and 17 reversed in one circuit, isn't that better than 10 cases and 4 reversed in another circuit?

        • Re:In percentage? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ari_j (90255)
          I'm not certain if it's volume or percentage. I'm not the one who came up with that saying. However, as a general rule of thumb the Supreme Court won't even hear an appeal unless there is a circuit split on the issue (or they think it's just downright wrong, but that happens less often). What I suspect is the case is that the 9th circuit is the most common one to split from other circuits, and is the one most often found to be in the wrong in those situations.

          But I'm certainly no scholar of 9th Circui
          • However, as a general rule of thumb the Supreme Court won't even hear an appeal unless there is a circuit split on the issue (or they think it's just downright wrong, but that happens less often).

            I thought they based it on whether there was inconsistance in the district rulings (i.e. if the 4th and 9th districts disagree on leagl theory, then it is a good time to have a ruling), or if substantial constitutional issues are at stake. The court could just be afraid that this will start popping up everywhere
            • given the rash of john doe suits the RIAA is filing

              That's really a completely separate issue though. In those cases the RIAA is accusing individuals of directly committing copyright infringement. At issue in the Grokster case is whether P2P networks are guilty of contributory infringement based on the actions of those users.
          • Re:In percentage? (Score:3, Informative)

            by cpt kangarooski (3773)
            It's volume. By percentage it's pretty average. Someone put together a scorecard of this for 2003 here [goldsteinhowe.com] and while there's not enough data given only the one year, it's pretty clear that the main thing is that so damn many 9th Cir. cases go up. Way more than from anyplace else.

            Basically, the 9th Cir. is too big. It needs to be split into a 9th and 12th, just like we split the old 5th into the current 5th and the 11th. (Hell, you might even be able to split it three ways)
            • I worry about dividing the 9th Circuit, because the only way to divide it that doesn't involve splitting a state or having one circuit that hears almost as many as the 9th currently does is to have "Circuit of California" and the rest of the old 9th. The 9th Circuit is liberal enough (relative to the others) as it is, but limiting it to California would just be nuts.

              Then you have the possibility of splitting California, but that would introduce not only the possibility of inconsistency of federal law go
              • Could be. Honestly, I'm not all that familiar with how many cases come into the 9th from its districts; I'm out in the 1st Cir.
  • Other companies (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ICECommander (811191)
    Why don't we sue knife, gun, and tobacco manufacturers as well? Oh wait...
    • The use of a gun is to kill someone. There is no other use for it. The gun isn't made to change the channel on a TV, or open up a can... it's made to HURT and KILL people. Same with ciagarettes.
      • The use of a gun is to kill someone. There is no other use for it.

        At least until someone invents the idea of a sport involving shooting at a target. Might even become party of the Olympics :)
      • Re:Other companies (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Jim_Callahan (831353)
        Yes, because the tabacco plant was all "Dude, let's evolve so that we're dangerous to the human chemical system, then make them smoke us". And wtf is this 'hurt' crap? Most guns are designed to kill things, which is often perfectly legal (raccoons, deer, national enemies). Hurt, my ass. If your target is still alive to hurt, you've screwed up, bud.
      • The use of a gun is to kill someone.

        That depends on the circumstances. Guns optimally designed to defend you from a burglar or rapist ought to kill -- that minimizes the risk of being subjected to a frivolous lawsuit for hurting the poor widdle cwiminal. Guns optimally designed for war should preferably disable rather than kill -- that takes up more enemy resources unless you're fighting somebody who doesn't give a damn about his own wounded.

  • God help us (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mboverload (657893)
    God help humanity if Groakster loses. They are not just fighting for rights, they are fighting for the future of communication itself.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Shut up. What the hell are you talking about.
    • Re:God help us (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Esteanil (710082)
      Nah. Not the world. God help America if Grokster loses. It'll just mean you've voted yourself one more step off the map. Hollywood is losing it's glory. The big things coming up are European and Asian movies. And with digital videocameras the way they are now, we can make movies *cheaply*! So why worry about piracy? The DVDs will sell well anyway, and there isn't anywhere near as big an investment as in yesterday's movies. CGI and special effects is getting really cheap too. Also, we don't have the americ
  • Just one comment... Movies made me do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is, after all, the USA. After what happened in November, I have given up all hope of ever seeing developments in this country that would not appall any reasonable person. The ship is sinking, people.
  • As we all know the final ruling will have ramifications on the tech world well beyond P2P Please, keep the dimensions in check :-) USA != tech world Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose...
  • Petition quote (Score:5, Informative)

    by Piquan (49943) on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:42AM (#11429637)

    I've been reading the documents involved, particularly the Ninth Circuit's decision and the **AA's petition for cert (request that the Supreme Court hear the case). It's been a while since I read Betamax, so I'll have to go back and read it next.

    But quotes from the petition are sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes absurd. Most of the petition is **AA saying, "The Ninth Circuit misinterpreted Betamax! Look at the Seventh Circuit; they got it right!" Much of the arguments in the **AA's petition revolve around the argument that since the network could have been designed to block infringement, it should. (Personally, I doubt that the network could be so designed, since not even the mighty **AA has demonstrated an ability to effectively distinguish infringing uses. But most of the arguments have talked about the ability to block, rather than the technically more problematic ability to identify.)

    One of the sidesplitters in the petition is this:

    Similarly, under the Ninth Circuit's test a defendant's ability to block infringement is rendered irrelevant except in the narrowest circumstances.

    The narrowest circumstances? The circumstances we have to consider are those on what we call planet Earth, not whatever alternative dimension that the **AA would like to live in. Indeed, the problem they have is that the "ability to block infringement" is only considered relevant if they actually, in real life do have such ability.

    Oh, well, those are narrow circumstances indeed; we should instead consider if, in any imaginable world, they might have such an ability, and bend reality to match that world. Sorry, guys, we have to consider actual ability to block, not what they might have if they set themselves up exactly like Napster.

    Most of the petition reads like this. The **AA feel that, because the network was designed without central control, that's evidence that they're guilty. It should have been designed with central control, and should prevent any infringing uses, because that would make the **AA happy. Because it's not designed that way, then Streamcast/Grokster are guilty of contributory and vicarious infringement.

    The Ninth Circuit's opinion, by the way, is also a good read. Much less maddening than this petition, for sure.

  • Bad Precedent: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jim_Callahan (831353)
    Making companies liable for illegal actions consciously performed by end users of their products is an extremely bad precedent to set. If I play my music too loudly and am fined for breaking city ordinance, I don't think MGM wants to pay the fine because it's the soundtrack to a movie they own. Basically, even if there is a legitimate justification for shutting down p2p, this is a bad way to go about it.
  • That plans to sue the Government at all levels for the provision and maintenance of roads .. They have indisputable proof that this "roads" infrastrucure has been used in over 80% of all crimes.
  • Since Rehnquist is a dead man walking, and Thomas never asks a single question during a case, but rather issues opinions a priori from his beautiful mind, that leaves only 7 other Supremes who will actually think about the case as argued. None of these people has ever used a P2P; they all can remember the excitement of wireless - FDR's fireside chats over Depression radio. Is there any chance the "final" Grokster decision will reflect the 21st Century freedom of P2P media, or just some disconnected calculus
  • Quoth the poster, "As we all know the final ruling will have ramifications on the tech world well beyond P2P."

    I hate to break it to you, but the United States isn't the center of the universe, tech or otherwise. Yes, the crazy anti-P2P movement will likely have a horrible effect to US residents, but please. Don't generalize. :P

    o Feb 13, 2004: File-swapping lawsuits loom in Canada [com.com]
    o Mar 31, 2004: Judge: File-swapping legal in Canada [com.com]
    o June 30, 2004: Canadian ISPs win on copyright ruling [com.com]
    o Dec 17, 200
    • The US != The TechWorld is 100% true.

      No, if this decision goes badly the US will become a technological backwater. Why, because the decision will give acts like the Induce Act, DMCA, and the new SR96 (not sure if I have that one right) legs to stand on. Technological innovations regarding communications in all forms would come to a screeching halt as ridiculous measure are built into these devices.

      But, most of these devices are not built in the US. They are built overseas. So these acts will have a direct
  • This case is what Jack Valenti and his minions and successor have been waiting for for decades... a case where the Supreme Court must either rule for a highly unsympathetic and shady defendant, or overturn Betamax.

    They won't overturn the entire thing. They probably won't even explicitly say they're overturning it. But what will happen is the "substantial noninfringing use" test will be modified, changed to "primarily noninfringing uses" or whatever else it takes to get a rule which excludes Grokster from

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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