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Cloud Computing, Music Lockers, and the Supreme Court 84

Posted by timothy
from the advance-the-useful-arts-and-sciences dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Net speculation has swirled about the DOJ being stacked with media company-friendly attorneys who will throw the consumer under the bus, but in one of the first rulings, the Solicitor General defended network DVRs, mentioned cloud computing and a music locker — which has to be a first for a Supreme Court brief. Michael Robertson chronicles the latest developments and you can read the brief for yourself."
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Cloud Computing, Music Lockers, and the Supreme Court

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh noes! Maybe the situation is more complicated than the average slashdotter thinks!

    • Oh noes! Maybe the situation is more complicated than the average slashdotter thinks!

      That should be the official motto for Slashdot.

  • Thank goodness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jdgeorge (18767) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:27PM (#28183907)

    What a relief to see our government coming out on the side of big businesses (cable TV/Internet service providers). Yes, this bodes well for consumers, but at its heart, this is about enabling big businesses to make tons of money. The MPAA/RIAA is not the only or biggest corporate interest the government is supporting.

    • Re:Thank goodness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:35PM (#28183993)

      So you're saying that no matter how they ruled, you would still have a snarky, cynical comment about the government?

      Reject network DVRs -> "Government in the MPAA/RIAA's pocket!"
      Defend network DVRs -> "Government in the cable companies/ISP's pocket!"

      • Re:Thank goodness (Score:5, Insightful)

        by harryandthehenderson (1559721) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:47PM (#28184171)
        Pretty much. These types of people always have to find fault with the government even if it's a the exact same position they themselves were advocating.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MatthewCCNA (1405885)
          I think a certain amount of cynicism is warranted
        • by pentalive (449155)

          It's tough to pin down such a large group of people..

          Reject network DVRs -> Group A says: "Government in the MPAA/RIAA's pocket!"
          Defend network DVRs -> Group B says: "Government in the cable companies/ISP's pocket!"

          Wonder what group C thinks of this.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          That's not really a bad thing though, is it? It's a fundamental check of power to verbally bitch-slap the government at every opportunity.

      • by siloko (1133863)

        So you're saying that no matter how they ruled, you would still have a snarky, cynical comment about the government?

        Indeed. Distilling the reasons for government decisions to a single cause is an over-simplification at best, more likely deliberate obfuscation.

      • Terrible Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hax0r_this (1073148) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:43PM (#28184977)
        I don't see what this has to do with consumers, as the summary seems to imply. Also, if you RTFA, no one related to the Obama administration "ruled" on anything, rather "President Obama's attorney filed papers with the Supreme Court supporting an earlier court decision that found Cablevision's remote storage DVR to be legal."

        New Summary:

        The Solicitor General filed a brief supporting a one company over another, after the Supreme Court already ruled that the first company was correct. Both companies were from industries that financed Obama's campaign [opensecrets.org] and have done everything in their power to fuck the consumer, so the ruling is essentially meaningless to you unless you happen to own lots of fiber or lots of IP.
        • by cduffy (652)

          Pardon?

          Certainly, there's big money on both sides -- but one of these positions is certainly more consumer-friendly than the other: One which allows new and innovative products to be introduced to the marketplace; the other extends an already substantial set of monopoly powers.

          Also, no, the Supreme Court did not already rule; the Federal Circuit court did, and the Supreme Court is deciding whether to consider accepting the appeal.

        • News flash: most large corporations give money to both political parties. The same industries "that financed Obama's campaign" also "financed McCain's campaign" as well.
    • Yeah, but it's helping their consumers as much as it is them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      As the others have noted, this would have meant 'tons of money' for 'big businesses' either way. Since that is the same on both sides of the equation, this ruling is really about the people and not the companies.

      • by jdgeorge (18767)

        Mmmm... I don't think so. I could be wrong, but I think the combined economic value of the Cable TV/ISP companies is higher than the value of the MPAA/RIAA companies. To me, this seems like a case of the government trying to support the more significant economic interest.

        Keep in mind, the reason either the MPAA/RIAA or the Cable/ISP companies have their money is because consumers value their product. This is not about what's best for consumers; it's about what's the best way to get the money flowing.

        Let me

        • I could be wrong, but I think the combined economic value of the Cable TV/ISP companies is higher than the value of the MPAA/RIAA companies.

          If that were true, then perhaps Comcast (cable TV/ISP) might have succeeded in its February 2004 attempted hostile takeover of The Walt Disney Company (MPAA). And compare Time Warner (MPAA; market cap: 29.43 billion USD) to the former subsidiary Time Warner Cable (cable TV/ISP; market cap: 10.94 billion USD) that it just spun out three months ago.

    • Well, technically, they couldn't help it, as both side of the issue were doing it for their pocketbook. Cable/service providers want you to rent DVR functionality from them, with the bonus of not having to send out expensive equipment to your home, while the content industry wants you to buy or rent another copy of that show you just happened to miss.

  • Why the surprise?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:34PM (#28183961)
    Lawyers are known to be friendly to whoever is paying them..

    When employeed by the RIAA ofc they are going to be aggressive to earn their keep.

    When employed by DoJ they don't care about the RIAA the govenment is paying them so they do what the government wants and if the govenment doesnt care they use their own views.

    Logically (most) lawyers don't like to repersent rapists (for example) but they will when paid..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)

      Lawyers are known to be friendly to whoever is paying them..

      "known to be"? Jebus, that's their fucking job!

      • No, it is their job to represent their clients, not to be friendly to them. Personally I would rather have a lawyer that is a prick and wins for me than one that loses and is friendly.
        • by fm6 (162816)

          For some kinds of law, a good lawyer has to be a prick. Especially to their own clients, who often have inflated notions of their own righteousness.

        • by Abcd1234 (188840)

          No, it is their job to represent their clients, not to be friendly to them.

          Apparently you don't understand the use of the term "friend" in the GGP's post. Here, let's review:

          Lawyers are known to be friendly to whoever is paying them..

          When employeed by the RIAA ofc they are going to be aggressive to earn their keep.

          When employed by DoJ they don't care about the RIAA the govenment is paying them so they do what the government wants and if the govenment doesnt care they use their own views.

          Now, consider, the

    • When employed by DoJ they don't care about the RIAA

      Unless RIAA pays more for them, "off-record" than the government. And since, as part of the profession, most newsworthy lawyers are basically merceneries, chances were good they would go with RIAA. Looks like they weren't that corrupt, or more probably, they are saving face right now to backstab latter.

      So, cheer for the record, but don't put your gloves down yet.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Logically (most) lawyers don't like to repersent rapists (for example) but they will when paid..

      Uh, you do understand the difference in law between somebody who "everybody knows" has committed rape (or some other crime) and somebody whose criminality has actually been established at trial? This distinction is not academic to a lot of people [google.com]. And even people who are convicted or confessed criminals have the right to representation when being sentenced.

      Lawyers are known to be friendly to whoever is paying them..

      And this is not a sign of their moral degeneracy. No ethical professional accepts a job and then undercuts the client's goals by substituting their own.

      • I'm told they called him that for reasons similar to why they nickname big kids "Tiny".
        • by fm6 (162816)

          Hmm. Let's see here. On the one hand I have a carefully documented biography written by a Pulitzer-winning historian [wikipedia.org]. On the other hand I have your report on what you say somebody told you. Gee, it's so hard to know who to believe....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)

        No ethical professional accepts a job and then undercuts the client's goals by substituting their own.

        No, an ethical professional accepts no job that would require them to compromise their ethics. A lawyer who takes jobs on both sides of an ethical issue has either compromised their ethics for one client or the other, or they have no ethics at all.

        Right now, I'm reading this biography of one well-known lawyer: Abraham Lincoln. (More or less on the top of my list of great Americans.)

        Lincoln destroyed state

        • by pnuema (523776)
          Lincoln destroyed states rights and set the stage for the all encompassing federal government we have today. He should have just let the South go.

          If the choice is between state's rights and allow slavery to continue, well that's a no-brainer for me. The fact that it isn't for you really makes me question your humanity.

          Countries don't exist. They aren't real. People are. As soon as you put the country before the people, you open yourself to atrocity.

          • Slavery was just an excuse. The South could've kept on practicing slavery--for a while, as it was already on its way out due to economic inefficiency--if it had only been willing to stay inside the Union. Somehow it just wasn't worth going to war over until the South seceded, at which point it instantly became a major issue and justification for all manner of atrocities.

        • A lawyer who takes jobs on both sides of an ethical issue has either compromised their ethics for one client or the other, or they have no ethics at all.

          Or they have a different set of ethics than you.

          Really. The my-ethics-are-the-only-valid-ethics theme is getting old.

          Let's look at how a professional can ethically act for both sides in an ethical issue. Perhaps, since the issue is complicated and not easily decided, the professional's ethics demand that he use his personal skills to the best of his a

        • by fm6 (162816)

          A lawyer who takes jobs on both sides of an ethical issue has either compromised their ethics for one client or the other, or they have no ethics at all.

          I said he offered. Of course he didn't represent both sides!

          Lincoln destroyed states rights and set the stage for the all encompassing federal government we have today. He should have just let the South go.

          Oh of course, states rights are so much more important than human rights. Ideas like "liberty is an inalienable right" is just a passing fad. Besides, slaves had it pretty good [schoolnet.co.uk], right?

          If the southern states had been allowed to go their own way, they would have been followed by every other region with a real or imagined grievance. Think they would have held on the the west coast? Not likely, since they had only recently settled territorial disputes

    • by Jawn98685 (687784)

      When employed by DoJ they don't care about the RIAA the govenment is paying them so they do what the government wants and if the govenment doesnt care they use their own views. .

      (chuckles...) My, what a charmingly innocent view. Influence is a commodity in our system of government. It is bought, sold, and traded. To even speculate that there might be an issue, especially one which has reached the DoJ and/or SCOTUS, has not attracted a market for "caring" individuals is depressingly naive.

    • by slashdime (818069)
      "Logically (most) lawyers don't like to repersent rapists (for example) but they will when paid.."

      While I'm all for lawyer bashing because IANAL and there are plenty of anecdotes that will probably back up your views and mod mine down, let's be reasonable here.

      "Logically", no one became a lawyer because they "like to represent rapists", but because they believe in the rule of law, or feel that everyone deserves a right to defend themselves in court.

      So it's more like, "Lawyers don't like to represen
    • by chrismcb (983081)

      Logically (most) lawyers don't like to repersent rapists (for example) but they will when paid..

      How is this logical? Many defenders believe in the American Way, and that you are innocent until proven guilty, and that everyone should have their day in court.

  • Scribd? Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by superdana (1211758) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:48PM (#28184177)
  • Deja vu?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sun.Jedi (1280674) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @12:53PM (#28184261) Journal
    We just discussed this 2 days ago [slashdot.org].
  • And when these consumers under the bus get squished they all say, "Arrrrrrr!" And their parrots and peg legs go flying.
  • suddenoutbreak... seems insufficient now. How about epidemicofcommonsense?

  • Music locker? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Taibhsear (1286214) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:25PM (#28184729)

    In case anyone else was wondering, a music locker isn't a gym locker that plays music when you open it.

    One example may be music lockering services, which permit users to upload files to a remote computer server and stream that music to a personal device over the Internet.

    • In other words, it means the same thing as "file server" except that it's usually remote (most people think of a file server as being closer/faster, i.e. on their LAN) and possibly crippled to only store one type of file (music).
  • by sampson7 (536545) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:48PM (#28185063)
    Why do people assume that a former RIAA lawyer is not going to vigorously defend the American people? I was going to go off on a rant and explain (for the billionth time) that lawyers have an ethical obligation to zealously advocate for their clients; that professional responsibility demands that lawyers follow the instructions of their clients (up to a carefully defined point); and that lawyers represent murderers and rapists all the time without personally endorsing those pursuits.

    But then I thought about all the people employed in the tech industry that have no love for the companies they work for, and are even openly dismissive of the products they once peddled. If I wanted to diagnose the problems associated with a particular code or piece of software, who better to ask then the people who created the software's architecture? The law is exactly the same way.

    Moreover, these are exactly the right people to bring the RIAA to justice. They better than anyone else understand the legal strengths and weaknesses of the RIAA's position. Really people, do you think that these people sell their souls to the RIAA for all eternity? They understand the tactics and how to fight them.

    Someone might look at my current employment as an energy industry lawyer and say I am unqualified to take a job with the government regulating the energy industry. These people are morons. There are few people qualified to police an amazingly complicated industry than those who were once a part of it. Barring corruption and direct conflict of interest checks (which are mandatory), if I were in charge of regulating an industry I would insist on hiring people with experience. Why is this so hard to understand???
    • by sgtrock (191182)

      Barring corruption and direct conflict of interest checks (which are mandatory), if I were in charge of regulating an industry I would insist on hiring people with experience. Why is this so hard to understand???

      Oh, it's not hard to understand at all. What you and the other apologists are forgetting is that in this particular instance, the lawyers who have been appointed to posts within the DoJ happen to come from firms who have consistently demonstrated a track record of unethical, immoral, and possibly i

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rgviza (1303161)

        Why on earth should we assume that they've all suddenly found the light and will never sin again?

        Because they are being paid to? I agree with Sampson, know thy enemy (or hire people that do).

        -Viz

    • lawyers have an ethical obligation

      Wait, you lost me there with ethics and lawyers in the same sentence.

  • by PhysicsPhil (880677) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:12PM (#28185397)

    In this particular litigation, the plaintiffs and defendants made various stipulations. Notably the plaintiffs agreed to sue over primary copyright infringement but not on contributory (secondary) infringement. Defendants, on the other hand, agreed not to raise the various fair-use defenses that were available to them. In at least part of their brief the DOJ asserted that because of these waivers, this was not a useful test case for the Supreme Court because it wouldn't examine all of the arguments that could be made for each side. The DOJ didn't particularly come out in favour of IT rights; they just felt this wasn't the best case to settle them.

  • by Neeperando (1270890) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:17PM (#28185463)
    I don't really see how this is a win (or even a loss, for that matter) for the consumer. Who owns the content that I paid for? The argument was whether it was owned by the cable company or the network, and it came up for the cable company. Who cares? It's still not me.
  • Long time reader 2nd time poster. I may be wearing a tinfoil hat. While these thoughts are not my own...Techdirt I believe. Anyhow I tend to think the same way. This judgment has the earmarks of being for fair use and on the side of the consumer, I with the above disagree. It's staging for the future. With this ruling its legal for the cable company's to store your DVR'd shows and movies on their networks. That's fine and dandy. This "service" will be a convenience for most people that don't want ano

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