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MGM v. Grokster: Here's Why P2P is Valuable 732

Posted by jamie
from the spelling-it-out dept.
Briefs defending Grokster's right to exist were filed yesterday in MGM v. Grokster, from Intel, Creative Commons [PDF], and many others. Among them, 17 computer science professors laid out the case for P2P, beginning with principles: "First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based." Pointedly, the EFF compares this case's arguments to those made over 20 years ago in the Betamax case, which established the public's right to use video-copying technology, because of its "substantial non-infringing uses," even though many used videotape to infringe copyright. We'll soon see whether that right will extend to peer-to-peer software: the Supreme Court takes this up on March 29th.
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MGM v. Grokster: Here's Why P2P is Valuable

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:00PM (#11824523) Homepage Journal
    "First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based."

    This is why I bang my head on the wall so much when I hear people get completely wrong simple things which really aren't technical, yet appear to excuse their manglings as acceptable because only wizards with great intellects can fathom it. Probably has a lot to do with the same mentality which says, "it's ok to give up some of my rights in these trying times, it's for the good of the country."

    • by fishbowl (7759) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:02PM (#11824554)
      "it's ok to give up some of my rights in these trying times, it's for the good of the country."

      It is okay for you to give up your rights.

      It stops being okay when you try to give up MY rights.
    • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:03PM (#11824563) Homepage
      What I don't understand is why it even has to go this far. P2P applications are the same as any other network transmission medium.

      HTTP, FTP, SMTP, IRC, SCP, blah blah blah blah blah, can all be used to send files across the Internet to another party.

      P2P has its legitimate uses as does any other object. P2P has its illegal uses as does any other tool. Obviously the lawyers would have a field day if P2P was banned...
      • It's not the protocols they worry about, but the people. P2P allows for alot of like-minded people to get together, not unlike a mass demonstration on the steps of the Capitol building. Just like the police would start arresting any large group of people (no assemblies of more than 3 people in any one place), they have to do the same online.

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:23PM (#11824824) Homepage
        P2P has its legitimate uses as does any other object. P2P has its illegal uses as does any other tool. Obviously the lawyers would have a field day if P2P was banned...

        I've just been arguing this elsewhere. Claiming P2P networks should be banned because it's used to share copyrighted works is like claiming that HTTP should be banned because web pages are used to slander people, or that knives should be outlawed because knives are used for stabbings. And it doesn't end there, screwdrivers and pencils can be used for stabbings, hammers can be used for bashing people's heads in, and cars can be used for running people over.

        However, the designs of all of these tools are morally/ethically/legally neutral, as is the case with tools in general. Moreover, the internet is inherently a P2P system. There really isn't an inherent difference between "client" and "server", nor should there be. Because of this, I'm not sure how lawmakers/judges intend to draw a conclusive line between P2P networks and other network traffic, effectively censoring one protocol without destroying the Internet in general.

      • Summed up very nicely by Intel from TFA: "Digital technologies are by their nature copying technologies; there will always be a risk that any digital technology, however well intentioned its designer, will be put to infringing uses."
    • They didn't really get it wrong, though. P2P is the same idea as the internet (at least at a non-technical level). Free exchange of information between computers. Really, all napster did was combine a web-server, search engine, and client browser interface, and tailor it specifically to music. Imagine that the mp3's had been posted on a website, and that google built a separate search engine for music. How is that fundamentally different from what P2P software does? Yes, I understand how some of the s
  • P2P + BitTorrent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Virtual Karma (862416)
    All we need is a P2P BitTorrent and it will do away the need for torrent hosting sites like LokiTorrent and SuperNova
    • They're working on it now... check out exeem [exeem.com].
    • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john.oyler@NOspam.comcast.net> on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:21PM (#11824798) Journal
      No, you need anonymity. Without a strong anonymity model, everything else is pointless. You warez kiddies have ran from one lame layer 7 protocol to the next, like rats fleeing a burning building.

      And while we're on the subject of anonymity, you might want to do the anonymity at layer2/3, instead of some lame-ass protocol that will be too limited 6 months after it gets big.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:04PM (#11824570) Journal
    P2P has been established as a useful technology. Nobody is denying this. Nobody wants it to be banned (at least they're not officially).

    Grokster is an application of P2P technology that appears to exist to allow people to swap copyrighted files without permission.

    They are not the same thing. MGM just wants Grokster and StreamCast banned. Not P2P itself!
  • Oral Arguments (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ari_j (90255) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:06PM (#11824595)
    Oral arguments in this case will be held March 29. I am strongly considering making the trip up to DC for this one, especially since it's on a day when I only have one class and, frankly, MGM v. Grokster is slightly more interesting than Criminal Law. But my newfound loyalty to class attendance (compare to my undergraduate days, when I actually had a class that I only went to for exams and to get the syllabus the first day (I got a B)) will probably trump any desire to hear what the Supreme Court justices have to say on the matter in their colloquy with counsel.

    Is anyone in the DC area going to go?
    • I am strongly considering making the trip up to DC for this one,

      It has been a few years since I was in the court house (as an observer, not involved in the proceedings) I sugest you check o make sure that you do not need to make any form of "reservation/tckets" in order to be there (like you do for the capitol building and congress). I can't remmeber if my teacher at the time made some arangements or not for the ~10 of us that went. But better check just to be sure.
      • Unless you have an in with one of the Justices, you can't be assured of a seat. Instead it's on a first come, first serve basis. On a good day, for cases that no one cares much about, this means getting there around 6 or 7 in the morning, and waiting outside to be admitted to the gallery. For a big case, it's a good idea to be prepared to start lining up the night before.
    • MGM v. Grokster is slightly more interesting than Criminal Law.

      Well yeah, it's sort of like the lab portion (except for the whole civil thing).

      But my newfound loyalty to class attendance [...] will probably trump any desire to hear what the Supreme Court justices have to say on the matter

      There will be a criminal law class next semester. The supremes only rule on a given case once.

  • by Mori Chu (737710) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:08PM (#11824616)
    If P2P is so valuable, then everyone who uses it to steal movies and music should realize that they're abusing something important. Those of us who use BitTorrent to get Linux distros and legal content don't really appreciate the fact that 30% of the entire Internet's traffic is from the transfer of pirated BitTorrent files, especially if that potentially leads to anti-P2P legislation.
    • by timjdot (638909) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:36PM (#11824964) Homepage

      Another point is that people who otherwise could not get published by Sony and Viacom can now self publish. There are lots of sites with music and videos on the Internet other than those of the RIAA cartel. This is what they want to stop. If they can kill any distribution mechanism other than their own then they can stop progress. Ha!

      Unfortunately, these music companies have largely outlived their usefulness to society. Within a few decades we'll be able to preview new music by search engines rather than visiting the record store.

      The music industry is one generation behind the SW industry. I was diappointed to find I cannot write SW products for a living other than integration but do realize the over-supply of SW generally drives progress. Likewise, we'll see an over-supply of music. Related to this is the over-supply of food: if someone from the 1600's walked into a grocery store today they'd be flabergasted. That's how the music industry will look to us by the end of the century.

      MPIAA/RIAA is still trying to force people to buy buggy whips.
    • Those of us who use BitTorrent to get Linux distros and legal content don't really appreciate the fact that 30% of the entire Internet's traffic is from the transfer of pirated BitTorrent files, especially if that potentially leads to anti-P2P legislation.

      I'm sure we'll find a technical solution to the problems presented by this Tragedy of the Commons just like we were able to find a technical solution for the similar one with Spam [wired.com].

      Oh, wait...

  • EFF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aaron England (681534) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:10PM (#11824638)
    This is why I contribute. [eff.org]
    • Re:EFF (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Just Some Guy (3352)
      I was an on-again-off-again member until somewhat recently. My state government (Nebraska) proposed an "anti-spam" law that would make it illegal to create or distribute software that's designed to hide the identity of the sender. I happened to be the author of a program [honeypot.net] expressly designed for this purpose, and under the definitions in the proposed law, I would be guilty of a low-level felony.

      Never mind that my program would be completely, utterly useless as a spam tool. It acts as an interface to the

  • I hate professors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgalun (8930) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:10PM (#11824644) Homepage
    This has nothing to do with P2P as a method of communicating data. This has everything to do with the providers of P2P networks providing reasonable safeguards against copyright infringement, which, like it or not, is the law of the land.

    Saying that P2P is an important network standard and therefore grokster cannot be held liable for what it enables with its software is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves.

    There is a difference between eliminating a transmission method and policing the items that are actually purveyed. For example, everyone lives in a house. But that doesn't mean that we can't be against crackhouses, or that we can't demand that landlords take precautions to safeguard against their property being used as crackhouses.

    If you are against copyright infringement, fine. If you don't think that the safeguards being proposed against copyright infringement over P2P networks are reasonable, fine. But don't pretend that this is an attack on P2P itself. The truth is that P2P networks have made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against copyright infringement. The industries have every right to demand that P2P networks be held to the same standards that other transmission methods are held, and to claim that the very Internet is under attack is a red herring.
    • by William_Lee (834197) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:20PM (#11824785)
      "Saying that P2P is an important network standard and therefore grokster cannot be held liable for what it enables with its software is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves."

      Your analogy inadvertently argues for the opposite of what you and MGM are proposing. Many of us still believe that people have the right to publish books without government censorship or interference.

    • by Kaa (21510) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:22PM (#11824815) Homepage
      is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves.

      Newsflash for you. In the United States, the goverment CANNOT request that such a book be taken off library shelves. And that's a good thing.

      The truth is that P2P networks have made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against copyright infringement.

      LOL. You know, the phone companies made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against criminals using their equipment and networks to plan nefarious deeds. The federal government made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against bank robbers using the highway system to get to the banks.

      The industries have every right to demand that P2P networks be held to the same standards that other transmission methods are held

      Aah, I see you are getting it :-) Since "other transmission methods" are not required to provide any safeguards, the P2P networks shouldn't be either. I agree :-)

    • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:22PM (#11824816) Homepage
      This has nothing to do with P2P as a method of communicating data. This has everything to do with the providers of P2P networks providing reasonable safeguards against copyright infringement, which, like it or not, is the law of the land.

      So creators of FTPd, HTTPd, SMTPd, NNTPd, etc should all have to write in "reasonable" safeguards to stop copyrighted material from passing over their software?

      Honestly, that can't work, I am free to move my copyrighted software from machine to machine to machine via FTP, HTTP, etc. That would put an end to the usefulness of these programs.

      BTW -- I have talked about "reasonable" before. What's reasonable [slashdot.org]? I suppose in this day and age being "reasonable" all depends on how much money was slipped into the pockets of our law makers.
    • Saying that P2P is an important network standard and therefore grokster cannot be held liable for what it enables with its software is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves.

      Except with libraries, they can choose to remove the book permanently, and don't have to worry about anyone renaming the book to "Pr@ct1c4l Gyd3 +0 +3rr0r1st @++@ck5"
    • This has nothing to do with P2P as a method of communicating data. This has everything to do with the providers of P2P networks providing reasonable safeguards against copyright infringement, which, like it or not, is the law of the land.

      Well, technically email is a P2P network. I don't see anyone claiming that every email program needs to have "reasonable safeguards against copyright infringement." Adding copyright checks is not the law of the land, it's the exception to the rule.
    • This has everything to do with the providers of P2P networks providing reasonable safeguards against copyright infringement, which, like it or not, is the law of the land.

      No it is not the law. Want to point to the statute or case that supports you?

      The Sony case, OTOH, says this: (emphasis mine)

      If vicarious liability is to be imposed on Sony in this case, it must rest on the fact that it has sold equipment with constructive knowledge of the fact that its customers may use that equipment to make unauthoriz

  • Sigh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viceice (462967) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:10PM (#11824647)
    "First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based."

    Exactly. I cringe every time I read about some clueless politician or corporate figure point to a fundamental part of the Internet and call it a new and emerging evil.

    For instance, the Internet was designed with redundancy in mind, when where a dead end is put in place, data can find another route to it's destination. Then you have some idiotic politician out to try and score points saying he wants the censor the whole of the internet of porn, free speech etc "for the sake of the children" Please.

    And then you have idiots in marketing who think that the Internet "Is a big untapped market" of people who are just itching to come to their dingy website spend billions.

    Sigh...
  • Test (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goo.cc (687626) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:10PM (#11824648)
    The problem for MGM is that Grokster, along with other file sharing services, doesn't actually infringe on anything, although they do provide an avenue for doing so. Using MGM's thinking, the Internet as a whole should also be eliminated since it can be used to distribute material illegally.

    Don't get me wrong; I am highly critical of those who wrongly distribute copyrighted material, but Grokster (in and of itself) is not to blame for this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:11PM (#11824653)

    This will be interesting, but I'm a little nervous about *where* the Supreme Court will take this one. Applying constitutionality to modern technology is a little tricky; Roe v Wade, for instance, gave us a ruling based on the combined interpretation of several amendments resulting in a "right to privacy."

    Are p2p networks covered by our right to gather? Our right to associate? Our right to privacy? Which amendments will apply to the laws being challenged?

    I certainly hope for a ruling favorable towards p2p. But not just for p2p--also because whatever ruling gets handed down will likely set a lot of precedent for other cases where corporate interests weigh in against developing technology.

    Free Sony PlayStation Portables [tinyurl.com] from Gratis.

    • by abb3w (696381) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:29PM (#11825548) Journal
      Are p2p networks covered by our right to gather? Our right to associate? Our right to privacy? Which amendments will apply to the laws being challenged?

      As I understand it, the primary challenge is entirely interpretation of current copyright law, with its foundation in Article 1, section 8. To grossly oversimplify (and IANAL), MGM &c claim the technology is fundamentally for copyright violation, and that they should be able to collect damages from the Grokkers for the infringements; the Grokkers say it has substantial non-infringing uses, and that the actions of the users are the fault of the users, and go collect money from them.

      The proposed legislation to ban peer to peer would need to be challenged on 1st amendment grounds, but that's not the case before the court. MGM &c are not directly challenging the legality of the product, but merely claiming the maker has responsibility for its consequential use. It may touch on the issues, but that's not where the focus lies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:11PM (#11824661)
    I make it a point to make available on Gnutella the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, works by Thoreau, Poe and Twain, along with mp3's of early jazz blues albums all of which is in the public domain. I consider this my contribution to "Substantial non-infringing uses", I encourage everyone to do the same.
  • In order to win this, they'll have to demonstrate a use of P2P that exists today in wider spread use than the copyrighted file-sharing networks do.

    What examples will they use?
  • by timjdot (638909) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:17PM (#11824744) Homepage

    If the Supreme Court is truly serous about Copyright Law then it will need to enact a heavy Copyright Infringement Tax on any goods being shipping in from China and other coutries where the Copyright Law is Totally Abused. Forget dinkering around with filesharing networks that cost pennies in relation to the world practice of not paying $10/movie like US citizens have to do to see the movie!

    When I was a kid people used to record tapes off the radio. Is that legal?

    If so, why not make a frieTunes that sucks songs off the Internet radio stations and, if you have a radio card, the radio? Just tell fT what you want and it trolls for it and then sucks it into your personal listening library.

    BTW, corporations are having a hard time adapting their business models to new technology. One thing history has shown is that countries that burn their fleets to hide exposure to the rest of the world (China) or ignore technology (battery in India) fell woefully behind. Allowing a supreme court to drive technology adoption is ludicrous.

    We all know that technology such as file sharing is not going to die. Some country will have copyright-bypassing DVD burners by the end of the year and then, again, China will sell movies for $1 while the USA people are gouged for $10 at the theater! So, then the US government-backed economists will tell us the cost of living is lower is why our jobs are making a mass exodus but have not the fortitude to admit they have enacted a legal system that financially attacks Americans/lets other coutries off scott free.

    Sadly, this is a case of extracting money from whoever can pay rather than enforcing legal justice. To continue to turn a blind eye on the rampant Copyright Infringements in Asia while attacking filesharing is like giving a speeding ticket to the guy late for work while failing to even investigate thefts (oh yeah, I'm wure we've all experienced this!!!).
    • When I was a kid people used to record tapes off the radio. Is that legal?

      Short answer - no.

      • When I was a kid people used to record tapes off the radio. Is that legal?
        Short answer - no.

        Short and wrong. Recording radio broadcasts, even making your own mix tapes with them as long as you don't use those for commercial purposes, is and has always been legal. The record companies never really opposed that as far as I know. Broadcast radio tends to be their conscious tool, and the quality is low and gets lower with remixing - unlike digital media - all of which made the tape recorder much less thre

      • He's right folks - when he was a kid (I'm assuming he was a kid before 1992), taping the radio wasn't legal. What changed? The Audio Home Recording Act legalized home taping, but also imposed serial copy management on digital media devices that weren't computer peripherals (the fact that the Diamond Rio was a computer peripheral was what, more than anything, saved it). The AHRA is the reason why "music" CD-Rs cost more than normal ones - the price difference is a tax paid to the copyright office - and why s
    • BTW, corporations are having a hard time adapting their business models to new technology.

      You should look at my cable bill.

      HDTV service, HD DVR, & broadband.

      That corp is getting almost 100% of my music, movie, and internet funds. The only thing they don't get paid for is when I see a concert in person.
  • The Betamax Case (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:18PM (#11824764)
    It's not The VHS Case. It's The Betamax Case.

    I submit that Betamax has done more for this world than VHS ever will from this case alone. Thank you Sony! And I'm sorry the format didn't achieve better acceptance.

    I'm especially reminded of this ever time I do a visual scan on a VHS machine, that has never worked as smoothly and easily as Betascan[tm] did from its very first incarnation.

    RIP Betamax. Gone, but never forgotten!

  • P2P may be all you have some day soon for uncensored entertainment if Ted Stevens [R-Alaska] achieves his goal of applying broadcast decency standards to cable, pay, and satellite services.

    Since when was it his right to decide standards on absolutely everything I see and hear?

    If you don't want the bad stuff, don't pay for it.

  • From the Brief (Score:5, Informative)

    by The-Perl-CD-Bookshel (631252) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:25PM (#11824839) Homepage Journal
    I believe that the most compelling argument made in the actual brief [eff.org] (the first link) is,
    "Second, amici address assertions that checking for infringement should be built into network design. On the contrary, certain functionality (such as using filters) should not be done at the network level. To order network designers to add functionality to the network to avoid liability is to force significant inefficiency into network design. Because leaving out such functionality may represent good engineering design, no negative inference regarding intent should be drawn if a designer chooses not to add this functionality."

    I was pointed there by Ed Felton [freedom-to-tinker.com] in a response post on the brief's abstract page on Freedom to Tinker,

    "I'm curious what you think of the corresponding section of the brief (Section II, starting on page 6), which makes the argument at much greater length."

    I love getting some free Ivy League insight (as an aside, I go to Rutgers where we are always using information from our Ivy League friends).

  • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:37PM (#11824969) Homepage
    Back in 1968, when DARPA was creating the internet, Paul Baran pointed out [rand.org] that there are potentially 3 different kinds of networks, a centralized 'star' type network, a distributed network (basically what the internet is today), and a decentralized network (p2p).

    Please click the link and look at the diagram. It's one of the single most important concepts vital to understanding the structure of the internet.

    This is nothing new. The decentralized design was chosen to maximize the price to redundancy ratio. A distributed network is too prone to failure and was not feasable back in 1968 (and still isn't today because of the basic economic structure in America. The internet will remain decentralized as long as the telcos own the phone lines.)
  • by gone.fishing (213219) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:38PM (#11824977) Journal
    P2P is a tool. It can be used for good or bad, it can be used for serious work or entertainment. But at the end of the day, P2P is a tool, just like a screwdriver, hammer, knife, or gun. The hands that you put tools in decide how the tool is going to be used. There is nothing enharently evil about a gun, it is how it gets used that makes the difference.

    I don't really want gang-bangers to have guns, but I think that having a police officer with a gun is usually a good thing.

    P2P should not be illegal, the act of piracy is already illegal. We do not need new laws, or even need the old laws "fleshed out" - they are perfectly adequate and can address the issue of piracy.

    • by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:08PM (#11825326) Homepage Journal
      P2P is a tool, just like a screwdriver, hammer, knife, or gun. The hands that you put tools in decide how the tool is going to be used.

      From reading up on gun control, that's a deeply flawed argument. A hammer is a fairly general purpose tool for bashing things. A screwdriver is designed for screwing in screws. With a little imagination it can be turned to other purposes - opening paint pots, stirring paint, stabbing people. An AK-47 Assault rifle is a tool designed for the purpose of killing people. It is quite difficult to put it to any other purpose, and while doing so, the danger of someone accidentally getting killed anyway is quite high.

      Napster 1 went down because the court was convinced that it wasn't a general purpose tool, but specifically a copyright-infringment tool. That's still the issue at stake.
      • I am not a gun owner and have no stake in the gun control issue other than as I suppose an interested observer. But I take exception that a gun, even an AK-47 is only designed to kill people!

        An AK-47 is only one model of thousands. It is to a degree a specialized version of a gun and it's designers probably considered lethiality when they designed it. But even an AK-47 can be used for sporting purposes as a rifle to shoot targets. It can be used to kill "varments" and can probably be used to hunt some
  • What about Usenet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:41PM (#11825009)
    Most people seem to view P2P as the technology for copyright violation and piracy but people have been doing this for years on the 80,000+ newgroups on Usenet - if anything, the amount of MP3s, movies, warez, etc on Usenet makes the selection available on P2P networks look pretty insignificant.

    The point I'm making is that for years, ISPs have been providing Usenet services to their subscribers, everyone knows that pirated material is on Usenet yet I've not heard of an ISP being forced to shut down the service due to pressures from the likes of the MPAA or RIAA.

    Just strikes me as curios, that's all...

  • by Jim Tyre (100017) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:04PM (#11825288) Homepage
    I'm glad to see that folks are talking about the CS Profs' brief -- after all, I'm the lead lawyer on that brief. '-)

    But I would suggest strongly that you look at many of the other briefs available on EFF's site. Respondents' Brief (the one by StreamCast and Grokster) is the most important, and there are many high quality amicus briefs. Eben Moglen, who wrote on behalf of FSF, has some great lines in his; and there are many other excellent ones.

  • It's simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dfj225 (587560) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:07PM (#11825325) Homepage Journal
    To me this should be a very simple case to rule on. The government shouldn't be concerned that certain companies are supposedly losing money. After all, it is not the government's job to ensure the wealth of certain people/organizations. What the government should be concerned with is the application of law and specifically if the law is being broken. By definition, technology cannot break the law. Therefore, I believe that the government has no choice but to keep the precident set with Sony v. Universal. Also, if they did decide to alter the law to make technology that is used for mostly illegal purposes outlawed, who is going to decide what technology fits in this category, and who is able to predict what new inventions will fit? If anything, a reversal in the Betamax ruling will make innovation difficult and only benefit corporations that are already insanely rich.

    Instead of concentrating on how to stop people from copying movies and music, the responsible industries should be concentrating on how to ensure that people are willing to buy their goods. I buy my digital music because it is easy, high quality, and has DRM that I can live with (from iTunes anyway). I also buy the movies I like because the format is always higher quality than what I can download. Who wants to watch some divx compressed screener on a nice home theater system?

    Movie and music companies should concentrate on what they do, make movies and music, not on stifling technology.
  • P2P (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RagingChipmunk (646664) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @03:53PM (#11826415) Homepage
    It seems that the eventual legal answer will be a federal policy requiring content publishers to be licensed like radio. You and I may recognize that the www is bi-directional, but, at a higher level, websites are considered publishers. Before you flame me with "1st Amendment" bullshit, consider that there is nothing in the Bill of Rights that says you have a right to avoid licensing. Most major media have license requirements to some degree, so, the precedent is there. Even low level "consumer" publishing has license requirements: HAM, CB, CableAccess TV. Jurisdiction? Also, it can be said that, in the US, internet content is subject to FCC regulations, especially WiFi, and any data conduits subsidized by tax payer money. It will be a matter of time before some senator realizes there is a triple win here: a public schmooze fest of "decency on the web", content protection for hollywood [licensing introduces accountability] and a new tax avenue for these "licenses". In this case, it will no longer be about the "Pirates" trading the MP3s, but, about enforcement sweeps that lean on ISPs to prove their the webbies have valid licenses. Sucky days ahead!

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