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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

MGM vs. Grokster

Fighting for our digital rights
Everyday, we bloggers post what is dear to us, what is interesting to our readers, or hopefully, a combination of both. We take it for granted that we have the ability in a legal sense to do what we do. In light of this, it is important to emphasize that there is hardly a more weighty news event that merits the attention of bloggers, blog readers, and all Internet users at large, than MGM vs. Grokster.

In the most important court case since the 1984 Supreme Court Sony Betamax case, the Supreme Court justices will hear MGM vs. Grokster today, which boils down to the issue of whether P2P companies can be held liable for infringement committed by users. Moreover, the decision will fundamentally affect what is permissible in the realm of file sharing, storage, publishing, distribution, etc.

The previous ruling by the 9th Circuit Court echoed the Betamax precedent, that P2P companies can't be held liable for infringement committed by users. However, the entertainment companies appealed the ruling and now, the Supreme Court will weigh in.

The ruling, expected by June 2005, will likely have far-reaching implications for other technologies. A P2P defeat would set a precedent facilitating the entertainment companies' ability to initiate crackdowns in the realm of many aspects/modes of file sharing, including websites, blogs, bulletin boards, and podcasting...and possibly other technologies, the EFF contends: Xerox machines, instant messaging, e-mail, VOIP, VCR, CD-Rs, and dual deck cassette recorders.

Record companies should perhaps ask why there is music piracy. When you price CDs above consumer demand at $15+, there will naturally be a gap: a small percentage of consumers with high demand or high disposable income will shell out the dough, but the majority of consumers will seek other means to obtain the music, legal or not. It is time for record companies, or, likely failing that, the artists themselves, to embrace the digital age and try to meet consumer demand where the listeners are.

DJMonsterMo | 11:48 AM |


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