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Supreme Court Takes Hard Look at P2P 489

Posted by Zonk
from the under-the-judicial-microscope dept.
Patrick Mannion writes "Supreme Court justices quizzed attorneys for file-swapping software companies and Hollywood studios Tuesday, in a case that will help determine the future of both the technology and entertainment industries. In their questions, the justices were critical of the entertainment industry's proposal, which would hold companies "predominantly" supported by piracy liable for copyright infringement. However, they showed little sympathy for the file-swapping companies' business model."
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Supreme Court Takes Hard Look at P2P

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  • ...finds it delicious!
  • Business Model? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ioldanach (88584) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:22PM (#12078231)
    What do the "business models" have to do with this? There are file sharing clients out there that are entirely free and have no company behind them to have a "business model". Not everybody's selling something.
    • Re:Business Model? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by baudilus (665036)
      But the most popular are - and holding a company responsible for what people do with their legitimate software is wrong. This argument has been made before. No one sues Smith & Wesson because their product was used in a shooting. I think this is good news for P2P.
      • Re:Business Model? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jumpingfred (244629) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:27PM (#12078312)
        You don't follow the news at all do you. Gun manufactures are getting sued becuase their guns were used in crimes.
        • Re:Business Model? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ari_j (90255) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:32PM (#12078401)
          There's a difference between getting sued and losing a lawsuit. Can you demonstrate one news article of a court deciding that a gun manufacturer was liable for injuries or deaths intentionally caused by use of their products? (Settlements with no admission of responsibility and legitimate products liability lawsuits, such as "I shot your gun at a target and the gun blew up in my hand," do not count.)
          • Re:Business Model? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Ioldanach (88584) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:39PM (#12078493)
            Can you demonstrate one news article of a court deciding that a gun manufacturer was liable for injuries or deaths intentionally caused by use of their products?

            Yes, I can.

            N.Y. jury finds some gun makers liable in shootings [cnn.com]

            Not that I personally agree with it.

            • Re:Business Model? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ari_j (90255) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:45PM (#12078576)
              Fair enough, and I disagree with the jury on this; but there is at least a rational basis for their finding, which is that the gun maker negligently allowed their guns to fall into criminal hands. I don't think that they owed such a duty, but evidently in New York they did. (There are many reasons I will never live in New York, and this kind of thinking is but one of them.)

              I do wonder if the gun makers found liable in that case appealed the matter. News stories about lawsuits always piss me off because they only announce two things: filed lawsuits and dollars given. If a case is dismissed as frivolous by a judge, that never gets reported; and if a case is appealed, that never gets reported. For instance, the McDonald's coffee case was ill-reported as it was, but the media didn't tell you that the woman's award was significantly reduced after the jury verdict was announced. Simply put, the vast majority of what happens in court isn't news-worthy. (Although if it happens in criminal court and there is a celebrity defendant, somehow everything that happens becomes monumental and deserving of widespread media coverage. What color underwear was Jacko wearing in court today, anyhow?)
            • Re:Business Model? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:12PM (#12079010)
              This was turned over in appeal: http://www.wlf.org/Litigating/casedetail.asp?detai l=48 [wlf.org] and http://www.tsra.com/finlnail.htm [tsra.com]
    • Yeah, and there are some that are run by businesses selling ads and spyware. Those are the companies being talked about in the article, not the stuff that lets you pirate for free with no strings attached.
    • Re:Business Model? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 12345Doug (706366) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:34PM (#12078414)
      If their (P2P comapnies) entire business model is to profit off of known/suspected illegal activities it could very well be important in the ruling. After all P2P must show substantial legal uses to gain a favorable ruling. If the justices don't see that based on the business models it could bode ill for P2P. Just my 2 cents.
    • Re:Business Model? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If they think P2P companies business model's are bad...take a look at tobacco and even the fast food industries.

      Tobacco CEO "Hey, were lying to & killing our customers for money, but so what, it makes us cash to pay the suckers in congress to keep them off our backs!"

      McDonald's CEO: "Let's hire a bunch of low paid workers and get rich off of them. Slaves even made more money than what were paying them!"
      • Re:Business Model? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArsonSmith (13997)
        Tobacco I kind of understand. Although any more it is fairly obvious that smoking is bad for you and if you don't know better by now then your money is better in the hands of tobacco CEOs. ...but until I see a ball and chain attached to the McDonald's workers legs I wont aggree witht hat analogy.

        Choice is key.
    • You don't have to be in business to have a business model. For instance, in the early days, Linux did not have any business prospects whatsoever, but that did not preclude Linus from adopting a particular business model with the goal of widespread use and development of his kernel. The same applies here.

      Also, the big concern here is that people can and will build business models around what the law allows and what it proscribes. If you know that you can get away with it because there is exactly one le
  • P2P says "what are you staring at?"

    • maybe the spirit of p2p -IS- eric duckman; the selection most networks have (lotsa pr0n) would lend to his tastes too.. ..what the hell are YOU starin at??
  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:24PM (#12078266)
    I don't see how they can do anything else given the complexity of the problem and the fact that this does need to be addressed with a fresh set of laws that replace (rather than add to) the existing.

    Indeed, many legal observers say the high court is likely to leave the law largely as is and if it wants a different outcome, to ask Congress to change the copyright law.

    • this does need to be addressed with a fresh set of laws

      you're presupposing that p2p networks are illegal. the reason this belongs in the courts at this point is because that has not yet been determined. at the conclusion of this case, or if it is thrown out one in the future, we will know if we need new laws or not. it is entirely possible, and feasible imho, for the courts to say, "you cannot prove the inherent illegality of p2p networks, therefore they, as a whole, are legal."
  • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:24PM (#12078269)
    RIAA: We are getting screwed.

    Supreme Court: How?

    RIAA: They are giving our product away.

    Techie: I got a one line perl script p2p software.

    RIAA: Arrest that thief.

    Supreme Court: We'll just rule out that script as illegal and take it off the market.

    Techie: Sure.

    RIAA: WTF, he's got like 20 scripts in 20 languages.

  • More details here (Score:5, Informative)

    by angle_slam (623817) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:24PM (#12078275)
    SCOTUSblog [scotusblog.com] has a more detailed look at the happenings today.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    who have no buisness model at all ! not that a bad ruling would make a difference , the internet is global , the cat IS out of the bag and congress and their bribers might be suprised that their legal decisions will not affect the other 5 billion people living in countries where their wants and laws have exactly 0 influence

    of course the p2p creators will just move to less opressive countries, it works for gambling and porn sites

    the "free world" has moved on, unfortunatly corporate America hasn't
  • Justices (Score:3, Funny)

    by Excen (686416) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:25PM (#12078289) Homepage Journal
    I'm honestly surprised that the Supreme Court Justices even know what a computer is. Then again, I suppose they have to get their porno some way, now that the Meece commission is no longer in business.
    • Because we know that the Supreme Court is filled with idiots. They should try to elevate themselves to your level.

      On a completely unrelated note, interesting journal entries.
  • Here's to Nashville (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) <dylan@@@dylanbrams...com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:26PM (#12078297) Homepage Journal
    They could only find 18 singer-songwriters in Nashville that were desperate enough to talk / suck up to big-record-industry people that they'd go to DC? Sounds like a pretty weak group of people to me.

    I don't hate musicians, or want them to starve, but I hate the slime they have to deal with now to distribute, and I want those people to starve. Twice.

    I'm in favor of the entertainment industry having to undergo monstrously painful changes. From what I can see, many people are - the way it is currently designed is destructive to both society and art as a whole. What we hear and see being run by a bunch of profiteering luddites is completely unappealing to me.

    Just thought I'd be one of fifty to present this argument in the next ten minutes.
    • by voisine (153062)
      They had a sign that said, feed a musician, download legally. If you can't afford food, it's because no one *wants* to hear your music. If you really are an as yet unsuccessful musician, wouldn't you do well to give your stuff away to get some attention? Then maybe you get a few more paying gigs. I think that'll be the music business model in the future. Why do we need a recording industry at all? In the future, successful musicians will give away recordings for free to gain popularity and then make money f
  • Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:26PM (#12078303) Homepage Journal
    They seem to be lumping together the technology used to produce P2P software, and the businesses that use P2P to make profit

    This will enable them to make a stronger case in their basic "p2p is bad" argument, when it's not the way it should be. Hopefully they will view the two things differently
  • by acomj (20611) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:27PM (#12078308) Homepage
    It seems that p2p takes away rights out of those that create things and make them public. Be they songs or photos etc.

    P2P is basically publishing. Why should you be allowed to publish my stuff, if I hold the copyright?

    These rights go away with time when the copyright expires. (A really stupid long time, thanks congress)

    If a creator wants to make something public domain then they can do that. If they want to paid for something they create, they should be able to do that too. (my photos are routinely hot linked as bloggers backgrounds and I don't care, so I don't sue)

    Whats with the right to do what you want with whatever you want all of a sudden?

    • Whats with the right to do what you want with whatever you want all of a sudden?

      Why should "intellectual property owners" have special privileges with regard to their products which allow them to override normal private property rights?

      Does a cabinet maker get to control how people use the cabinets that the cabinetmaker has sold them? (I suppose he could always make them sign a contract, but I suspect he'd lose a lot of customers that way.)

      • You can't copy the cabinit and give it away for free can you.. Dumb analogy.

        Your point is you should be allowed to do what you want with what you buy. I used to make tape copies of my cds/records to listen in my car. I don't think a single person was every sued for doing that.

        The fact that stupid people decide to republish stuff they don't own means the industry and government will push more and more restrictive DRM uppon us, screwing those who just want to enjoy what they've bought.
    • It's very telling that this completely normal post was marked as "Troll" by some sheep.

      The truth is very simple in this situation.

      1.) P2P file-sharing is just a technology, neither good nor bad.

      2.) Copyright infringement of other people's stuff, no matter how many people try to justify it, is ethically wrong.

      The big struggle with this is coming from frightened content owners who realize that people are lazy and don't care and will pirate anything they can get their hands on, simply because human natur
      • Your right. I should have pointed out in my post p2p isn't a bad technology, it just is.

        The way its being used it the problem. It has some great uses (linux distos on torrent is one).

        -A
      • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 30, 2005 @05:39AM (#12087074)
        Copyright infringement of other people's stuff, no matter how many people try to justify it, is ethically wrong.

        How can you justify this statement, given that "copyright infringement" has no consistent definition ?

        "Copyright infringement" in, say, Australia (where we can't even legally record most things off TV) is a very different things to "copyright infringment" in, say, the US.

        The big struggle with this is coming from frightened content owners who realize that people are lazy and don't care and will pirate anything they can get their hands on, simply because human nature is such that if you can get something without paying for it, you will.

        This is not true at all. Exhibit A: bottled water.

        All "content owners" have to do is make things cheap, attractive and easy enough and the vast bulk of customers will pay for their goods. The problem is "content owners" aren't prepared to price their stuff low enough.

        Frankly, piracy is wrong and always will be wrong, [...]

        That is rather dependant on your view of copyright and "intellectual property" in general.

        [...] and legal downloading like iTunes is already taking off, which means most pirates are so cheap that they're not willing to spend 99 cents on a song.

        I'm not prepared to spend that much on a song - more accurately, I'm not prepared to spend that much on a bunch of songs. US$0.99/song still works out to roughly the same price as buying an entire album's worth of songs - the only major different being buying per-song allows you to make sure you get only the songs you want. That's not even taking into account the lower sound quality and additional restrictions typically inherent to on-line music stores.

    • There's two Slashdot Official Positions on this, one is an flat-out lie, and the other is naive and stupid. They are:
      • Flat-Out Lie

        "I never use p2p illegally, therefor neither do most people, and therefor it should be illegal." This stems from Slashdot Misconception #1, quoted in my sig, that

        most people are basically like me. There's a corollary to this, which is, "I've bought a ton of music/software/videos/etc/whatever specifically because I got to preview it on p2p first. They're making money off

    • Yep, but P2P doesn't in itself infringe the rights any more than other ways of publishing. Would you ban photocopiers because people use them to photocopy copyrighted material? How about printing presses? Why should you allow these but not p2p?
  • by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:27PM (#12078323)
    The trouble is, Grokster is not a sympathetic defendent. The Court have (more or less rightly) noted that the Defendents have build a business model predicated on copyright infringement, and will be inclined to Do Something about it.

    Unfortunately, the only tool really before the Court is an overturning of the Betamax doctrine, which was decided with a much more sympathetic defendent.

    This is one of the few cases I can think of where the appropriate charge should have been conspiracy. It's a crappy bit of law, but it would actually fit. As it is, I'm afraid that the Defendents may have screwed us all.

    • by jfengel (409917)
      Unfortunately, the only tool really before the Court is an overturning of the Betamax doctrine, which was decided with a much more sympathetic defendent.

      Or explaining in what way this is different from Betamax. The cases are similar in a general sense (a technology with potential copyright-infringement possibilities but also legitimate uses). But they're different in balance.

      The Betamax technology already had a large installed base of users who were using it primarily for time-shifting. Although it co
      • by Alsee (515537)
        explaining in what way this is different from Betamax.

        I understand you want to argue this is different than Betamax, but you you did not actually do so.

        In this case it can be argued that the existing P2P programs are used primarily for copyright infringement.

        In other words you are suggesting overturning Betamax.

        What Betamax says is: "it need merely be capable of substantial noninfringing uses".

        You are trying to make an argument that providing a perfectly legitimate product to a perfectly legitimate
  • Aha! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Orangez (871612)
    "However, they showed little sympathy for the file-swapping companies' business model." So there is a business model?
    • Of course there's a business model. Problem is that the SCOTUS is having just as hard a time as anyone else in figuring out what step two is.
  • "We're here to give a face to people being hurt by illegal downloads," said Erin Enderlin, one of the songwriters. "When we don't get paid, we can't pay our rent."

    Hey, I am all for supporting artists that support the free distribution of their music. You want to make money from me? Allow your fans to put your live shows up on the various torrent sites (etree, easytree, etc) and I'll take a listen and possibly buy your stuff. If you expect me to take the $10 risk and buy your stuff before getting a good
  • by Ossus_10 (844890) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:28PM (#12078329)
    That was an interesting assertion about the predominance of piracy in P2P. I seem to remember a slashdot article about how the majority of Bittorrent and other P2P services were not used primarily for piracy. Maybe Grokster and StreamCast are different? I'm sure that wont help them. They need to focus on all the little old ladys that use P2P to send pictures of their Grandkids to the world. Ossus
  • by eyefish (324893) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:28PM (#12078332)
    P2P is like the the kitchen knife: You can use it to cook or you can use it to kill people, but just because you can kill people doesn't mean we should prohibit everyone from using a knife to cook.

    Likewise, you can't restrict people's ussage of P2P just because P2P it is also used for piracy, after all P2P is probably one of the most useful networking patterns in existence for all kinds of things.

    If I were the enterntainment industry, I'd embrace P2P as it solves one of the biggest problems they face today: Bandwith to millions of people. This just goes on to show that the people running the enterntainment industry are dinosaurs falling behind the times.
    • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:42PM (#12078535) Homepage
      P2P is like the the kitchen knife: You can use it to cook or you can use it to kill people, but just because you can kill people doesn't mean we should prohibit everyone from using a knife to cook.

      I like the analogy, but I'd say that modern P2P is more like the broadsword--you can use it to cook or you can use it to kill people, but you can be damn sure that it was designed with a specific purpose in mind...

      Yes, P2P is used for plenty of legal activity. A P2P application, in and of itself, does not violate the law. You're lying to yourself, though, if you suggest that the driving force behind P2P is anything other than illegal file sharing.

      I, too, think that the court will find in favor of P2P, but honestly, there are no good guys in court today. One side is a pack of morally bankrupt, lying weasels who claim to be looking out for the little guy but are really in it for the money--but I don't care too much for the other side, either.

      • modern P2P is more like the broadsword

        The problem is that "P2P" is not monolithic, and each variation requires a different analogy. Things like Grokster were certainly intended to aid (illicit) media swapping, and their associated business entities don't help to dissuade this notion. OTOH we have stuff like BitTorrent, which has literally enourmous [google.com] non-infringing uses (result #3 and similar notwithstanding).

        Hmm...I'm having trouble here, what kind of blade is BitTorrent? Maybe a chainsaw powered by a b
    • Sure, they'll rule in favor of P2P ... but they'll rule against business who thrive on the rampant piracy that occurs via their P2P software.

      Not saying I agree or disagree with said ruling, but it's likely the way it'll pan out...
    • Well, that's your view. The view of the RIAA is that P2P is like a nuclear bomb. You can use it to remove trees (and, well, pretty much everything else) from your back yard or you can use it to blow up your local city block. But just because you can use it for creative gardening purposes doesn't mean we shouldn't prohibit everyone from using a nuclear bomb.

      And that's the point of the Supreme Court looking at this case: to decide whether P2P is more like a kitchen knife (a helpful thing that can be used to
    • You'll get my 10" Shun Chef's knife when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!
    • P2P is like the the kitchen knife: You can use it to cook or you can use it to kill people, but just because you can kill people doesn't mean we should prohibit everyone from using a knife to cook.

      That analogy only goes so far. Dynamite, for example, can be used in construction or mining, but can also be used to blow people up. In most or all countries, explosives are legal but highly regulated.

      I'm not saying that your kitchen knife analogy is invalid, just that the principle you extrapolate from it is

  • by almound (552970) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:29PM (#12078346) Homepage
    Don't tell the Supremes about it, OK?
  • by rawyin (870144) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:30PM (#12078350)

    Darwin, while disputed frequently, did a decent job of proving that which fails to adapt will fade into history. Unfortunately when the times show you have no recourse to stop an action, you will do more damage to yourself to try and hold back the tides.

    I anticipate a ruling in favor of file sharing networks. I suspect this ruling primarily because:

    1. Historic case law supports the idea
    2. There are too many legitimate purposes in existence today
    3. The government more often than not rules in favor of the people

    Hopefully such a ruling will encourage the RIAA to redefine themselves and evolve into something better

    Or at least get rid of a few of the fluff artists.

    • Indeed, define point to point. Is IRC not a form of P2P? MSN Messenger? The DNS system? Routing and networking in general?

      Couldn't point-to-point be interpreted as "a way of sending arbitrary data through one or more peers to get from source or destination".

      In the majority of cases, this arbitrary data is not a file. More, something along the lines of "who has xyz?" and "connect to abc". The actual filetransfer is frequently done direct.

      But then if anyone patents that idea, we're all screwed ;)

      It will b
  • by BlackMesaResearchFac (593320) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:30PM (#12078352)
    I agree that the Supreme Court will likely keep things as is and move on, but once this issue gets to Congress, watch out...

    Then it becomes entirely about who is lining whose pockets. The RIAA, with the help of some of its friends, has a decent shot at buying what it wants.

    Granted there are opponents w/ money, but the RIAA has proven to be very motivated.
  • by rjnagle (122374) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:31PM (#12078374) Homepage
    It seems likely that the Supreme Court will not overturn the lower Court's decision, and that is good for artists and consumers. Good riddance to the big labels [downhillbattle.org], I say.

    But the question of compensating artists has not been addressed. We need to create an environment where downloaders want to support musicians they love rather than simply downloading their stuff for free.

    Musicians need to start setting up tipjars [imaginaryplanet.net] and consumers need to ask rigorous question about how much of anything they purchase goes to an intermediary.

    I recently went to a concert of Kristin Hersh where she sold no CD's but encouraged people to support her by buying mp3's of demos off her website [throwingmusic.com]. I bought $20 of mp3's off her website, of which Hersh received a significant percentage. Is that the future?

    Here are some other thoughts about how to reward musicians [idiotprogrammer.com]

    • You see the dilbert where the boss wants engineers to work for tips.

      Laughable..

      Buying direct is a better way. I try to buy cds at shows because I feel the artist gets more.

      If you can promote your artists better than the big labels you go ahead.. You'll make $.

      Why no one has set up a decent music review/sample site is beyond me. with "pod casted" reviews and samples that would be neat.

      For what its worth itunes sells many small label bands.
    • I always wished groups had paypal account or such so you could send money to support them, but them being caught in a contract with the devil to publish their music, they can't just accept the money like that without letting others take their cut. When I find some good mp3's, I'd like to compensate the artists - not the record label execs, but right now there's no way of doing it.

      Buying the CD gives most of the money to intermediates;

      Buying a used CD gives those no money, but gives none to the artists eit
  • ...you are making the RIAA's case for them.

    Oh yeah, this too [modernhumorist.com].
  • Count me in (Score:3, Interesting)

    by soupdevil (587476) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:35PM (#12078431)
    as a Hollywood content provider rooting for the p2p networks.
  • business issues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by badxmaru (545902) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:35PM (#12078435)
    If you look at it from the POV of the businesses, they have these huge organizations where there's massive overhead between the artist and the receiver. Much of this goes to marketing, paying for coffee, internet usage by interns, the like. But the problem is that they all are publicly listed stocks and they have fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to make sure they return value. This value of course is reflected in the stock price. These companies are on a hot plate to fix a problem which has been verily disruptive ever since it came into being. In the good ole days, sharing a CD was limited to those who were on solid lists, knew couriers or simply picked a large barrelled pistol and robbed a Tower Records. Nowadays, it's almost an expected experience that people have when they sign onto broadband.
    By suing these sharing networks, the industry is trying to alleviate its "systemic" risk, allowing at least perceptions of control to come into play. Albeit this is a false sense of control, Sharman et al couldn't possibly be considered liable for what downloaders of their software do, but they're going to make a case for it regardless.

    In a back room somewhere, some finance intern has calculated that by liquidating all these software developers in a successful law suit will apply the current value of those companies and bring the music industry to a break-even point which will in turn allow them to make their stock numbers. Allowing the CEO's and likewise glorified fattened calves to keep their jobs and drive their $100,000 motorcars, live in their million dollar homes, and guarantee their children into Harvard and Yale through endownment donations.

    Yay Capitalism.
  • predominant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:36PM (#12078445) Homepage
    Given a bunch of P2P programs, infringers of a feather are going to flock together. Even wit the best intentions of providing a legitimate service, one service will end up known as the 'best place' to trade copyrighted files, and people will go there.

    You can shoot the messenger, but another will rise in its place.

    Note to the RIAA/MPAA: profit from P2P, instead of trying to fight it. You've just had the most powerful and potentially convenient distribution method in the world dropped in your laps, and it costs you nothing to distribute content now. If you can't find a way to increase your profits in light of that, then you deserve extinction. Someone will rise to replace you, too.
  • Looks good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PxM (855264) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:37PM (#12078463)
    All of the previous courts that have ruled on this case have sided with P2P. Probably because the P2P side has been making the argument that P2P is just the next version of VCRs, audio tapes, etc. Also the Constitution says that the purpose of copyright laws is to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" and the P2P side has artists saying that the tech is good for them because it helps them get their stuff out. The RIAA's argument is pretty much "we're losing money" rather than "the arts are being destroyed" so they have a harder argument to pull off. There is also the strong evidence showing that many people who use P2P do buy the music later on. While this is still technically illegal, it ends up promoting the arts so this is probably a Good Thing in the eyes of the Founders.

    --
    Want a free iPod? [freeipods.com]
    Or try a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox. [freegamingsystems.com] (you only need 4 referrals)
    Wired article as proof [wired.com]
  • by filmmaker (850359) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:41PM (#12078523) Homepage
    Is how there is absolutely ZERO discussion of the artists themselves. What do they want? Not even an issue. How can we help make sure they are supported and that we, the labels, can keep them as talent in our stable? Not an issue. And you'd think that second one would be; you'd think that the long term implications of keeping good talent happy and keeping consumers happy and buying would enter this thought process

    The term I heard used today was "inducement." Basically, can it be argued that Grokster induces crime. I sure hope this thing is laughed out of court because, while I understand that physical world analogies fail and it's more complicated than a lot of folks will admit, the precedent that would be set if software is found to be inherently criminal would have the potential to set us into a freakin dark ages.

    I mean, it's already happening [slashdot.org].
  • Working Artists? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have zero sympathy for musicians in this situation. I remember the OLD days when they had to "perform" live to earn a living. Now they complain about not being able to sell retouched recordings from the comfort of their MTV crib jacuzzi's. So pitiful. All this P2P stuff doesn't seem to have made a dent in MTV cribs.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:44PM (#12078561) Homepage Journal
    This morning, National Public Radio ran a piece on the upcoming SCOTUS arguments. To my disappointment, it was a industry-friendly puff piece [npr.org] that didn't even attempt to find a valid use for the file-sharing technology. It could have been written by an RIAA PR rep, especially given the number of times they used the phrase "downloading copyrighted works". The only opposing view was a short whine by someone with Grokster about their business model.

    Usually, NPR excels in their reporting. But on this subject (as well as the subject of low-power FM broadcasting, another place where public radio puts its own interests above those of the public) they fall way short.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladvNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:45PM (#12078566) Homepage
    In their questions, the justices were critical of the entertainment industry's proposal, which would hold companies "predominantly" supported by piracy liable for copyright infringement. However, they showed little sympathy for the file-swapping companies' business model."

    IANAL, especially not one who brings cases before the supreme court, but of what little I know of judges this isn't a surprise.

    I've had a few traffic tickets and I've even taken an old landlord to court. Every one of those judges, fair as they were, were highly critical, probative, and stern in their questioning of both sides. In other words, they were grumpy and downright rude. However, fortunately in my cases, they showed no favoritism to either side and ruled impartially. I expect this behavior they gave to both sides. Hell if you think your case is important enough to take to the surpreme court you damn well better take any kind of rudeness they give you and say "yes your honor may I have another?"

    A big part of this is because judges are never trained to be nice. Judges especially, but laywers in general often seem to lack basic courtesies, especially in court. Another large part of it is because the US system is set up as an advesarial system so there's a lot of bad vibes in a court room that would make anyone stressed and grumpy. But the biggest part is they are simply getting down to business and trying to find the facts. Setting both sides on their heels by asking tough questions is how the supreme court works and how they come to the final answer. If you are coming to the highest court in the land you better come prepared with some pretty damn good answers.

    Enough media hype of the judicial process... I want to know the answer the surpreme court comes up with!
  • by mmell (832646) <mike.mell@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:46PM (#12078592)
    First -- what do RIAA and MPPA plan to do about individual coders who are working all the time on P2P programs such as LimeWire? After all, it seems that the "powers that be" are trying to uninvent P2P file sharing -- rather like the U.S. trying to stuff the nuclear genie back in the bottle after bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Second -- when will RIAA and MPPA go after the DVD and CD manufacturers for creating a digital medium with little-to-no effective protection against copying? After all, it seems to me that unencoded audio CD's and CSS encoded DVD's (being readily copied in both cases) are technologies which foster and encourage illegal copying.

    And let's not forget television and radio broadcasters, who's offerings can be recorded and re-disseminated without any technical work on the part of the end-user (consumer?). Are they responsible for all of the (VHS,BetaMax) pirated content which they helped create? I still have the first three season's of Star Trek TNG on VHS (shredding tapes now to stave off assault by MPAA).

  • by mystereys (673518) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:57PM (#12078723) Homepage Journal
    I went to the supreme court this morning in hopes of being able to see the oral arguments for the case (I live in the DC area). Unfortunately, there was a huge line and I and many others didn't get in. I can report on what happened outside, though.

    The pro-RIAA/MPAA/MGM protesters showed up first, at maybe 8:45am. They tried to go up on the steps leading to the court building, but police told them they needed to stay on the sidewalk. This group of folks then hung out for a little while with their signs (one which read "Thou shalt not steal. -God"), then some of them took out their guitars and started playing and singing.

    Then at around 9am, the protesters from the Consumer Electronics Association [ce.org] showed up, with black shirts reading "Save Betamax" in white letters. They were met with a some cheers from some folks in the waiting lines as they left their bus and assembled on the sidewalk a little ways away from the rival protesters. They had more creative signs compared to the musician protesters. The interesting thing to note were different demographics of the two protesting groups. The musicians were mostly middle-aged white men. The electronics advocates were generally younger, and had more of a mix of genders and races.

    The news media started showing up in full force at around 9:30, and took some interviews with various people, including folks from both protest groups, and random people (including a teenager from a school group). I saw cameras from NBC, ABC, Channel One and Reuters. The media seemed to be focusing a lot of attention on the musician protest group, as at least one of their members was always being interviewed. However, that might have had something to do with them having guitars and making music, which got them attention.

    The crowd waiting to get in seemed to be either on the side of Grokster or ambivalent. I took some photos, which I'll put up on Flickr [flickr.com] (tagged "Grokster" or something like that) or the dc metblog [metblogs.com] when I get home from work.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:53PM (#12079874)
    In a series of court battles where the ??AA want to eliminate *all* P2P, is it really a good thing that Grokster and StreamCast are representing P2P software? What about BitTorrent, for example? While it's P2P and while it's sometimes being used to violate copyrights, it has been used and even endorsed by some entertainment businesses as a necessary part of distribution of software/patches/media. My concern isn't that Grokster or StreamCast suffer, but rather that the entire concept of P2P file transfer is criminalized by association when it actually has real, legitimate, and very important private and commercial uses.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:54PM (#12079889) Homepage Journal
    This is not just about the music/video/software industries..

    If a company ( or person ) can be held legally accountable for the improper use of his product then many industries are screwed and this could wreak havoc on the countries economy due to the litigious nature of the present day.

    Everyone from car manufacturers, to gun makers could now be argued, with this precedent, that they are liable. Even a brick manufacturer could conceivably sued under this pretense.

    The fall out of this case may just effect the long term viability of this country.
  • I suppose i'm not a good capitalist

    i'm not going to even touch the particular argument about whether P2P software or activities are inherently illegal or not because i'll make my vote on my own.

    what bothers me is the inherent idea of copyrighting materials. i believe as most people presumably do that it is fair to expect to make a living off the work you produce. but i don't see how it is an automatic right that anything you make muscially should sustain you for years, particularly if you never do anything again.

    as an activist for freedom of speech, i will certainly allow that a song of revolution is equally valuable as a novel that shook the world. but as a consumer, i'll tell you that i think the average Britney Spears schmaltz isn't worth even listening to the ads on the radio, let alone paying money for it. and the fact that twenty years from now, they'll be selling minivans to her current fans using that song just saddens me. the fact that any person can cruise talentlessly through the music industry and then get huffy about protecting their right to live off that "work" just makes me laugh

    but what makes me cry is something different. take the example of Happy Birthday. one of those universal songs, you might end up singing it every month for the rest of your life (certainly around my office you do). it is one of the cornerstones of Western culture, a part of our collective social imaginary. we as a people sing this song in celebration time and again.

    unless of course you're in the movies or a commercial or television. because yes, somebody wrote it and they expect to get paid. who cares if they're ninety year old ladies at this point. or for that matter, who cares if it's the children of those 90 year old ladies. or for that matter if it's Vivendi Universal or BMG or Sony who bought the rights to the copyright off the children of those now-dead 90 year-old ladies but still stand up demanding their 18 cents everytime it's played in a commercial setting.

    yes it makes sense that you should get a living out of the works you produce, but frankly with patents and copyrights being given extensions time and again, these works are money-earning products so long past any human lifespan that the idea of the creator making a living from it has been lost. give them five years. give them twenty years. i think it's fair that a generation should pass before something enters the public domain (though it still seems too long).

    the fact is that copyright has become an inalienable right to be greedy about some cute catchy riff that has all the weight or importance of that pothole i ran over yesterday. it protects the rights of singularly untalented people and defies the truth that some songs have been embraced and loved by humanity.
  • Are ISP's next? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vip (11172) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:33PM (#12080759)
    A few companies here advertise their high-speed internet. In many of the ads I have seen lines such as "Share music!" or "Download music!" They are actively advertising to their customers to use P2P.

    Couldn't the music biz interpret this too as aiding file-sharing and destroying their business model? Perhaps Shaw and Telus (2 major high-speed ISP's here) need to be shutdown?

    Vip
    • Re:Are ISP's next? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jamie Lokier (104820)

      They [ISPs] are actively advertising to their customers to use P2P. Couldn't the music biz interpret this too as aiding file-sharing and destroying their business model? Perhaps [ISPs using such advertising] need to be shutdown?

      No, because there is plenty of music available for legitimate sharing and downloading with the blessing of its copyright holders. (An example: Magnatune [magnatune.com]).

      It is therefore a very legitimate feature for ISPs to advertise - and this is becoming more and more so as sharing-friend

  • Photocopier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @05:10PM (#12081411)
    Would the photocopier have ever been made if the paper publishers had taken the line the RIAA and MPAA are taking now?

    Would text scanners exist at all?

    These both have infringing uses but they are not the subject of lobbying groups attempting to deny their very existance.

    It is all about powerful lobby groups attempting to maintain their stranglehold on media creation and deny the people their voice. (Ok that is a little strong). It is about $$$$.

Disclaimer: "These opinions are my own, though for a small fee they be yours too." -- Dave Haynie

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