Sunday, January 23, 2005

LAW - Video Software Dealers Association Files Grokster Brief

The brief, available here in PDF format, favors reversal of the Ninth Circuit's decision in favor of Grokster in the entertainment industry's lawsuit, which is primarily based on theories of secondary copyright infringement.

I'm extremely concerned about any solution to this problem that advocates telling technology developers that they have to implement technology measures in order to insulate themselves from secondary infringement liability, which is the big issue in Grokster.

The issue isn't P2P itself. As many have said, the technology is perfectly legal and extremely useful. The issue is what bad actors are doing with P2P.

Both the technology sector and the content industry have to realize that there is an often-blurry but extremely important distinction between the two, and I think that the authors of this brief are missing that.

When they talk about things like requiring Grokster to help prevent infringement, they are talking about placing the content industry in control over technological innovation. If a new technology or service has the ability to infringe copyrights, then imposing a kind of duty like will essentially give Hollywood and the music industry oversight
over the development of technology.

The MPAA already wants to be able to monitor Internet 2 for illegal movie trading. Do you want the RIAA to force Wi-Max providers to include IP sniffers at all their towers to monitor users to try and track copyright infringement?

Do you want to see recording executives telling software developers what the next versions of Windows, MacOSX, or Linux are going to have to do in order to satisfy this duty to help prevent infringement?

In addition to being content neutral, any solution to this problem has also got to be technology neutral. It's not the device that infringes. It's what you do with it. Target the business model, not the device that enables it.

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