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P2P Supreme Court Case Brings Opposing Views To Light

Chris Richardson
Staff Writer
Published: 2005-03-31

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Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the MGM versus Grokster/StreamCast case. At issue is whether or not the two P2P developers are liable for the actions of people who use their product.

According to early reports covering the trial indicate the justices are hesitant to limit technology in order to appease the entertainment industry. The two companies are relying on the 1984 Betamax ruling to defend their development of P2P applications. What follows are two releases, one from Grokster and one from Congresswoman Mary Bono. By reading these, it's easy to see how diametrically opposed each side is.

Congresswoman Mary Bono's release:

"The continual growth of technology has enabled many businesses in this country to thrive. However, the misuse of this technology for infringement purposes is simply wrong - it threatens the livelihood of intellectual property rights holders and it negatively impacts the entire landscape of our intellectual property based economy.

If the Supreme Court does not reverse the ruling of the 9th Circuit in the MGM vs. Grokster case, we will have failed to promote intellectual property in this country and we will have also failed to take a major step in preventing piracy."

Apparently, the precedent set in the Betamax ruling has no bearing on the Congresswoman's position. Should we through out years of corporate protection just to satisfy those who want to curb what they perceive as piracy? I certainly hope the Supreme Court does not feel this way, and judging by early barometers, they do not.

Next is the release for Grokster and StreamCast, which details their position.

Grokster/StreamCast release:

5­ StreamCast Networks, Inc., makers of the popular Morpheus peer-to-peer search and sharing software, and Grokster, Inc., makers of the Grokster advanced file-sharing software, have filed briefs in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which could shape the future of technological innovation for years to come.

"We are thrilled by the support expressed in the many amici briefs that were filed today," said StreamCast Networks' VP/General Counsel Matthew Neco. "And the many 'neutral' briefs filed last month show consensus that the solution is to allow market forces and cross-industry self-regulation to emerge, perhaps with action from Congress, but not the Supreme Court. Useful technological innovation should not be cut-off at the knees by the Supreme Court before it has a chance to walk, let alone run.

We are in times of change, but the change that will come from P2P is good, because in this case the advancement of arts and sciences for the benefit of the citizens of this great Country is then best served. And that is, after all, the reason copyright exists at all."

"There is simply no need for the Supreme Court to overturn, or even modify, its holding in the Sony case. It is good law and has allowed the development and eventual commercialization of many so-called ‘disruptive' technologies, such as the VCR, the CD player, Apple's iPod and even the computer, all of which arguably allow the user to make multiple copies," said Co-Counsel Charles Baker of Porter & Hedges.

"There is no doubt that this explosive growth in technology came as a direct result of the Sony opinion, and any change in the boundaries set forth in Sony could spell disaster for our economy as a whole. In those limited instances when the copyright holders have true, legitimate concerns about ‘disruptive' technologies, they have turned to Congress to level the playing field. Congress is much better suited than the courts of our nation to consider the impact of new technologies and to listen to all stakeholders who otherwise would not have a voice in any litigation. I believe that the Supreme Court should affirm the Ninth Circuit's and District Court's opinions, and I look forward to litigating the remainder of the case before Judge Wilson."

"For the past century, Copyright litigation in this country has been an endlessly repeating cycle. Time and again, the corporations that control both artistic content and the current method of distributing that content ask the courts to protect them against new and better technologies, by banning those technologies," Michael Page, of Keker & Van Nest, counsel for Grokster, Inc. stated.

"Time and again, the courts have refused to extend the copyright monopoly, and have allowed new technologies to develop and mature, to the benefit of artists, the public and the very corporations that sought to ban them. That basic principle--that copyrights, no matter how numerous, do not give the holders a veto over technological progress­is at the heart of the Supreme Court's 1984 Sony opinion. The Grokster/StreamCast case is just the latest assault on this principle, and we are asking that the Court reject that assault and reaffirm Sony."

What are your thoughts concerning this landmark case? Discuss at WebProWorld.

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About the Author:
Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

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