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.
- EFF: MGM vs. Grokster information
- MP3: Oral arguments before the 9th Circuit Court
- A look back at Betamax
And the similarities of the entertainment industry's arguments then and now.
- CNN/Money : The war over downloading
They also have this interesting graphic of who's taking sides:
- Wired News: Supreme Showdown for P2P's Future
- CNET: Top court to hear landmark P2P case Tuesday
- CNET FAQ: Betamax--tech's favorite ruling
- Boing Boing: MGM vs. Grokster posts
- The Economist: "...attacking the technology behind file-sharing could stifle innovation without tackling the industry’s long-term problems"
- Liveblogging MGM vs. Grokster
- C-SPAN RM
Ted Olson (Entertainment industry) vs. Fred Von Lohmann (EFF)
Has the latest about the case, including Justice Scalia asking how an inventor can know how an invention will be marketed.
From their site: "CopyNight is a monthly gathering of people interested in ensuring freedom for artists and tinkerers, fostering innovation, and restoring the balance between the public interests and intellectual property rights holders for the benefit of all."
The first meetings are tomorrow in Washington D.C., New York, Providence, Raleigh, Austin, L.A., San Francisco, and Seattle.