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MGM v. Grokster: Here's Why P2P is Valuable

jamie posted more than 9 years ago | from the spelling-it-out dept.

The Courts 732

Briefs defending Grokster's right to exist were filed yesterday in MGM v. Grokster, from Intel, Creative Commons [PDF], and many others. Among them, 17 computer science professors laid out the case for P2P, beginning with principles: "First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based." Pointedly, the EFF compares this case's arguments to those made over 20 years ago in the Betamax case, which established the public's right to use video-copying technology, because of its "substantial non-infringing uses," even though many used videotape to infringe copyright. We'll soon see whether that right will extend to peer-to-peer software: the Supreme Court takes this up on March 29th.

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732 comments

my frist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824490)

first post

You're honor, my opponent is an idiot. (2, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824643)

"First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based."

BURN!
Fucking awsome!

I'm not confident (0, Offtopic)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824496)

44% of the Supreme Court thought its fine to execute children. I'm not confident they're going to get this right, in the face of substantial corporate lobbyists.

Re:I'm not confident (3, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824536)

1. Save the children! The Supreme Court is out to kill children, so it's safe to assume that they're also out to make mistakes in their rulings.

2. Corporate lobbyists are always in the Supreme Court telling the justices how to rule, and the justices rule as the lobbyists tell them to.

3. The sky is green.

Re:I'm not confident (-1, Offtopic)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824622)

44% of the Supreme Court think executing minors is neither "cruel", nor "unusual".

And as to the influence of corporate lobbyists, if you think the Supremes are intellectual, thoughtful jurists who consider only the facts, you're wrong.

Remember, the Supreme Court decided Corporations have the same rights as citizens, despite there being absolutely no legal or constitutional reasoon for them to do so.

Re:I'm not confident (1, Offtopic)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824689)

Read the rest of this thread. You are in the wrong on the actual holding in that case, and you are furthermore employing nothing but logical fallacies combined with an utter lack of understanding of US law to make a point that is entirely invalid. I'm through conversing with you on the topic, but this needed to be pointed out.

Re:I'm not confident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824765)

44% of the Supreme Court think executing minors is neither "cruel", nor "unusual".

You'll need to keep this in context that the minors being executed are only in this position due to extreme crimes. Some minors are capable of commiting crimes fully aware of the implications. I'm not saying that this means all should be executed by any means but that some may actually be carefully considered.

Now another interesting aspect is how the courts decide that abortion is still legal. I know this comes down to the definition of "life" but how can say Scott Peterson guilty of killing two lives while a mother may kill an unborn child and not be guilty? Seems the courts are inconsistent.

Re:I'm not confident (0, Offtopic)

KtHM (732769) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824791)

That's easy enough. If the kid would probably survived, had it been born, then it's murder. If it's still a little gooball, then it's not.

Re:I'm not confident (1, Informative)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824759)

I Must respectfully disagree with you ...
The Sky is not green.

Re:I'm not confident (5, Informative)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824551)

No, it's not the right to execute children. 44% said that is ok to execute people who committed these crimes as children. There is a huge difference. In Arizona, there are 4 inmates who now won't be executed. They all are now in their late 20's and early 30's. They are incarcerated for crimes they committed when they were not yet 18. I am not advocating capital punishment at all, but I do think that you should understand what was decided.

Re:I'm not confident (0, Offtopic)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824810)

Well what the majority of justices decided was that society does not hold children to the same standards of culpability or responsibility that it does adults, and thus executing who commit their crimes as children flies in the face of that very notion.

It's little surprise, of course, that Scalia and his lapdog Thomas were opposed. If it even looks a teeny-wheeny bit socially conservative, they'll go for it. Remember, Scalia is the guy wanted to uphold state anti-sodomy laws. More frightening, of course, is that GWB will probably try to stack the court with people of this kind.

Re:I'm not confident (1)

Moonlapse (802617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824565)

I'm curious to see what the results would be if this issue were put to the popular vote.

Re:I'm not confident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824587)

"Announcing the new President of the United States, Mr. Anonymous Coward"

Re:I'm not confident (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824612)

Referencing the two guys (one of which who was under 18) that were sniping people as they went about their daily business in Virgnia, Maryland, DC and several other states ranging from Alabama to Texas to Washington (State). And that Maryland seriously considered removing the moratorium on the death penalty when they caught those two, Something tells me the majority would be in favor of it in certain circumstances.

Please Clarify (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824574)

What the heck are you referring to (please pick one)?
( ) - Abortion
( ) - Trying a minor as an adult
( ) - All of the Above
( ) - Just Trolling, move along please
( ) - CowboyNeal

Re:Please Clarify (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824630)

No, this was a recent decision. The Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional (having not read the opinion, I am assuming on "cruel and unusual punishment" grounds, although there may be other reasons) to execute people who were under 18 at the time they committed the crime for which they were convicted and sentenced to execution. The decision was 5-4, whence the 44% bit. But the root comment appeals to emotion and non sequitur reasoning, as well as a misunderstanding of the ruling itself.

Re:Please Clarify (0, Offtopic)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824666)

This decision, made yesterday [yahoo.com] . Do try and keep up.

come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824575)

Who doesn't enjoy a good dead baby joke every now and again?

Re:I'm not confident (5, Insightful)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824577)

This isn't true. Four of the nine justices were of the opinion that it is not unconstitutional to sentance minors to the death penalty, this doesn't mean that those justices believe that it is fine to execute children. It is the justices' duty to make decisions based on their interpretations of the constitution and laws, not based on their personal opinions. For evidenece of this, look at their decision in the Flag-burning case (I'm too lazy to look up the name of the case). Justice Scalia, who is opposed to flag burning, was the swing vote in the case which upheld our right to burn the US flag. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, ask him about the case and he'll tell you that it was one of the toughest decisions he had ever made on the court at the time.

Re:I'm not confident (0, Offtopic)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824588)

this doesn't mean that those justices believe that it is fine to execute children
No. But it does imply that they didn't consider it "cruel" or "unusual" to do so.

Re:I'm not confident (1)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824641)

Those justices' opinions were that it is not cruel or unusual to sentance a minor, or an adult who committed a crime as a minor, to death. Your original wording makes it sound as though the case was related to executing minors, which it wasn't.

On a side note, I'm strongly opposed to capital punishment in all forms. I'm just trying to help folks understand the difference between the court making decisions based on their moral values and making decisions based on their interpretation of the laws passed by (mostly) elected congressional representatives.

Re:I'm not confident (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824671)

And I agree with the 4.
Here in GA, we had some girl that killed her grandparents, and then went to the beach. She thought it was funny. I say, light her ass up.

Re:I'm not confident (0, Offtopic)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824704)

Your distinction between executing minors and sentencing them to death (then executing them later), is quite reasonable, well made, and duly noted.

Personally, I don't think it makes much of a difference to my opinion of people who think it's ok.

Re:I'm not confident (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824795)

Justice Scalia, who is opposed to flag burning, was the swing vote in the case which upheld our right to burn the US flag. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, ask him about the case and he'll tell you that it was one of the toughest decisions he had ever made on the court at the time.

Well, that tells you something about him. It should have been a no-brainer: A flimsy piece of cloth is obviously not as important as our freedoms. If he had to struggle over that for more than 30 seconds, he's not fit for his position.

Uh, dude... (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824593)

44% of the Supreme Court thought its fine to execute children. I'm not confident they're going to get this right, in the face of substantial corporate lobbyists.

the first is a moral issue, which has little bering on corporate profits (except the sick little monkeys in the execute-minors-industry). This case has to do with fear. Fear of losing control of 'properties'* and fighting tooth and nail (and no small amount of kicking under the table) to strangle consumption of their goods. Get the crap out there in volumes and at fair prices and pirates will be a thing of the past. Withhold it and then even rip off consumers with alleged-Widescreen (cropped from pan-and-scan) and you get those around the cracks and seams who will provide for themselves.

*most of which should have fallen into the public domain, by now, including a well known mouse caricature.

Re:I'm not confident (0, Offtopic)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824594)

do you mean similar to the murder case: Here [kyw.com]

Because you know, we should allow these kids to get off with a slap on their wrist.

Re:I'm not confident (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824632)

Slap on the wrist or execution. Yes, they are the only options.

Re:I'm not confident (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824651)

Because you know, we should allow these kids to get off with a slap on their wrist.

If, by slap on the wrist, you mean life in prison. It's not like we'll knock it down to probation os anything.

Re:I'm not confident (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824602)

That's not the whole truth. Conservative judges just don't feel that the Supreme Court should be the arbiter of values or morals. They feel that the role belongs to the legislature. It's about judicial self-restraint.

Re:I'm not confident (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824620)

"44% of the Supreme Court thought its fine to execute children."

I don't disagree with their reasoning. I'd go a lot further. Certainly there are 15 year olds who are aware of the consequences of their actions, and should be held accountable.

I have difficulty with the arbitrary age distinction for emancipation. A teenager with a very sheltered life actually has certain disadvantages versus one who grows up streetwise, for instance. There are adult 12 year olds, and there are 20 year olds who are still children.

People under 18 should have some means to emancipate themselves, gain the right to vote, run for office, manage their own finances, own real property, etc. Not all are capable of succeeding, but there should be a process where they are given the opportunity.

Re:I'm not confident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824738)

So you feel that kids from bad neighbourhoods should be punished more harshly than those from wealthy ones?

No, No, No (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824634)

44% of the Supreme Court felt that policy decisions, like this one, properly belong to state legislatures. Please read Scalia's dissent.

I don't even want to debate whether it is cruel AND unusual (don't forget there is a conjunction) is a good or a bad thing. The point that people on both the right, left and center have to get into their collective heads: just because you like or dislike the results of a legal decision doesn't mean the legal decision was good or bad.

I don't like X. X was outlawed by the decision. Therefore, the decision was good. Well, this past decision was shotty?

You should be more worried that 6 justices (I'm including Conner) pretty much follow whatever whim they have and then try to back it up with shotty legal reasoning. That's why you should worry. I have no idea how those members of the court will judge something Constitutional or not. They are like boats set adrift on the ocean.

Actually it was 78%... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824657)

...of the Supreme Court who thought it was fine to execute children. See case "Roe v. Wade" in 1973.

Re:I'm not confident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824746)

They didn't get the child execution issue right with only 44%! How are they going to get this issue right?!.. Oh, wait, I read that wrong.

Re:I'm not confident (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824781)

44% of the Supreme Court thought its fine to execute children.

Funny...I thought most of slashdot was pro abortion rights.

Re:I'm not confident -- Oh, The Children, sob... (4, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824806)

44% of the Supreme Court thought its fine to execute children.

And 100% of those "children" thought it was just fine to execute other human beings. Some of them even felt it was okay to execute other human beings because they were children still, and therefore the state couldn't do anything really bad to them.

Those are not people I want to live beside afterwards. So just where are your priorities?

Most New Movies Suck Anyways (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824498)

Same with music.

Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824523)

"First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based."

This is why I bang my head on the wall so much when I hear people get completely wrong simple things which really aren't technical, yet appear to excuse their manglings as acceptable because only wizards with great intellects can fathom it. Probably has a lot to do with the same mentality which says, "it's ok to give up some of my rights in these trying times, it's for the good of the country."

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (5, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824554)

"it's ok to give up some of my rights in these trying times, it's for the good of the country."

It is okay for you to give up your rights.

It stops being okay when you try to give up MY rights.

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (4, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824727)

But, judging from your low /. UID, you are a useless hippy who hates America and Jesus.

Troll? (1, Funny)

nick8325 (825464) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824778)

Troll? He has a lower UID than the grandparent!

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824563)

What I don't understand is why it even has to go this far. P2P applications are the same as any other network transmission medium.

HTTP, FTP, SMTP, IRC, SCP, blah blah blah blah blah, can all be used to send files across the Internet to another party.

P2P has its legitimate uses as does any other object. P2P has its illegal uses as does any other tool. Obviously the lawyers would have a field day if P2P was banned...

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (-1, Offtopic)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824656)

What I don't understand is why it even has to go this far. P2P applications are the same as any other network transmission medium.

Difference be, you have Players and playahs

Players are big money with a lot of clout and get laws bent the way they see fit to maximize their return.

Playahs are peacocks who flash their bling-bling, live fast and sloppy, and really had no plan other than puffing their overinflated egos

Guess which one will have influence over your life for years to come?

Players to Playahs... it's like the organ grinder and his monkey.

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824698)

The simple fact is, I know^H^H^H^Hhave heard FTP is big in the copyright violating community.

I, er, that is, they just hope legislators don't decide to ban NNTP.

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (3, Interesting)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824756)

It's not the protocols they worry about, but the people. P2P allows for alot of like-minded people to get together, not unlike a mass demonstration on the steps of the Capitol building. Just like the police would start arresting any large group of people (no assemblies of more than 3 people in any one place), they have to do the same online.

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (-1, Flamebait)

jgalun (8930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824811)

Yes, all those methods can be used to transmit files over the Internet. But none of those methods meet the three criteria that make P2P networks unique:

Extremely efficient for disseminating files (e.g., SMTP is not very good if you want to share a 100MB file with thousands of people)

Are widely popular precisely because they enable copyright infringement (the majority of web sites are not for the purpose of copyright infringement, but the majority of traffic on Grokster surely is)

Are difficult to track down and eliminate copyright infringement (if an FTP site at some IP address becomes popular, it's easy to figure out who is hosting the site and who needs to be contacted to have it shut down. P2P networks have provided no such mechanisms - for good reason, because they're either ideologically against copyright, or against copyright because breaking it is how they make money)

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824824)

P2P has its legitimate uses as does any other object. P2P has its illegal uses as does any other tool. Obviously the lawyers would have a field day if P2P was banned...

I've just been arguing this elsewhere. Claiming P2P networks should be banned because it's used to share copyrighted works is like claiming that HTTP should be banned because web pages are used to slander people, or that knives should be outlawed because knives are used for stabbings. And it doesn't end there, screwdrivers and pencils can be used for stabbings, hammers can be used for bashing people's heads in, and cars can be used for running people over.

However, the designs of all of these tools are morally/ethically/legally neutral, as is the case with tools in general. Moreover, the internet is inherently a P2P system. There really isn't an inherent difference between "client" and "server", nor should there be. Because of this, I'm not sure how lawmakers/judges intend to draw a conclusive line between P2P networks and other network traffic, effectively censoring one protocol without destroying the Internet in general.

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (2, Insightful)

telecsan (170227) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824665)

They didn't really get it wrong, though. P2P is the same idea as the internet (at least at a non-technical level). Free exchange of information between computers. Really, all napster did was combine a web-server, search engine, and client browser interface, and tailor it specifically to music. Imagine that the mp3's had been posted on a website, and that google built a separate search engine for music. How is that fundamentally different from what P2P software does? Yes, I understand how some of the solutions are technically ingenious (read bittorrent), but the innovation is going on to make it easier to use, not to fundamentally change the design of the internet.

No, it has to do with lack of expertise (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824676)

They are lawyers with expertise in law, not network designs.

Re:No, it has to do with lack of expertise (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824799)

They are lawyers with expertise in law, not network designs.

I thought David Boies, when he was working for the DoJ* on the Microsoft Antitrust trial, made it rather clear that it is a very good idea for a lawyer to understand the technology they are attacking or defending. Nothing makes you look bad like being revealed as an ignoramus for pursing something in the wrong direction on the public stage. (Assuming the public get it.)

*back when it really was interested in justice

Re:Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall (1)

Joe(o)(o) (833575) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824730)

Probably has a lot to do with the same mentality which says, "it's ok to give up some of my rights in these trying times, it's for the good of the country."

This is why I bang my head when people think any of their rights have been taken away. Your rights have not been taken away.

When will it stop? (1)

LinuxHeadMN (457423) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824550)

IANAL, but I still don't see this going very good for the P2P users. While I applaud the efforts of the EFF, it's still going to come down to the MPAA believing that they can back off from this, and unfortunetly, I don't see that happening.

Granted, not many people really are going to want to watch ripped movies from some junkie in a movie theater holding a camera, but still, there are some who will want to view the video/movie. With music, while it is much harder to control, (i.e. the files are smaller), this is where I see the MPAA really cracking down on the useage. I would expect to see, even if this fails, more attempts by the MPAA to harass users and ISP's in order to get the trading of music to stop.

However, even if this lawsuit goes through, it just means people will find another way to trade the music/movies. In which case, in another 5-10 years, we'll be back at this point again. If the MPAA won't adapt, others in society will.

Re:When will it stop? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824621)

With music, while it is much harder to control, (i.e. the files are smaller), this is where I see the MPAA really cracking down on the useage. I would expect to see, even if this fails, more attempts by the MPAA to harass users and ISP's in order to get the trading of music to stop.

The Motion Picture Association of America has little to do with the distribution of music. The other evil **AA, though...

Re:When will it stop? (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824814)

Soundtracks.

P2P + BitTorrent (3, Insightful)

Virtual Karma (862416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824564)

All we need is a P2P BitTorrent and it will do away the need for torrent hosting sites like LokiTorrent and SuperNova

Re:P2P + BitTorrent (1)

0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824591)

BitTorrent is a P2P technology.

I think you mean a decentralized BitTorrent.

Re:P2P + BitTorrent (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824699)

It is not decentralized BT, but decentralized search engines.

BitTorrent is really great in its current form : file distribution.
Search engines for file seeds is a whoe different problem.Totally legitimate search engine/seed repository will never be shut down by the RIAA/MPAA, like Blizzard using BT to distribute its patches.

Re:P2P + BitTorrent (2, Informative)

Tha_Big_Guy23 (603419) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824609)

They're working on it now... check out exeem [exeem.com] .

Re:P2P + BitTorrent (1)

L1nux_L0ser83 (860647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824717)

careful with mentioning exeem in slashdot. The Huns that read these will jump all over you like they did to me. its "adware" according to all the "hardcore" /.ers

BitTorrent IS P2P (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824633)

BitTorrent is a P2P software. The websites you cited are search engines.

Re:P2P + BitTorrent (5, Insightful)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824798)

No, you need anonymity. Without a strong anonymity model, everything else is pointless. You warez kiddies have ran from one lame layer 7 protocol to the next, like rats fleeing a burning building.

And while we're on the subject of anonymity, you might want to do the anonymity at layer2/3, instead of some lame-ass protocol that will be too limited 6 months after it gets big.

Bzzt, wrong (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824566)

Everyone who uses these P2P (pirate to pirate) networks is a criminal and a terrorist to put it bluntly. We live in a socialist society here in the US and if you don't respect authority and the laws then what you have done makes 9/11 look like a day at the beach. You pirates are sick and need imprisoned and/or executed for your evil deeds.

Is this MGM versus P2P or MGM vs Grokster? (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824570)

P2P has been established as a useful technology. Nobody is denying this. Nobody wants it to be banned (at least they're not officially).

Grokster is an application of P2P technology that appears to exist to allow people to swap copyrighted files without permission.

They are not the same thing. MGM just wants Grokster and StreamCast banned. Not P2P itself!

Re:Is this MGM versus P2P or MGM vs Grokster? (3, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824635)

What do you think the RIAA and MPAA have been up to these past few years? Protecting the proper use of P2P channels?

You're either extremely naive, or you work for one of the **AA's.

Re:Is this MGM versus P2P or MGM vs Grokster? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824660)

I think they've been trying to maintain their monopoly. But they're doing so by attacking specific implementations of a technology rather than the technology itself.

Re:Is this MGM versus P2P or MGM vs Grokster? (4, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824649)

If MGM manages to get Grokster and Streamcast banned, it is quite likely that it will be used as a precident to ban other P2P networks and technologies. This especially includes BitTorrent.

Re:Is this MGM versus P2P or MGM vs Grokster? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824700)

I agree MPAA & RIAA may not be asking to ban p2p altogether. Howver, in their zeal, they might force off technology like BT or Gnutella. I have downloaded all my linux distros & patches from BT. Now, if they succeed in getting services banned, then we might not see any improvements in delivery mechanism. I mean, today because of the success of BT, companies like BBC are trying to modify the torrent technology to deliver quality video on the internet. I think this peercasting technology will allow people like me to broadcast audio/video (legal, of course) over the internet.

MPAA/RIAA may now say that they're intersted in only closing Grokster/Bit Torrent & other p2p apps from existing. However, then p2p would be legal but wouldn't allow people to use them as there're no useful applications for it.

When will they realize that it is like banning cars from roads just because accidemts happen. The key is in educating & making people realize that ethical behavior is required.

Re:Is this MGM versus P2P or MGM vs Grokster? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824773)

Fair enough. I do see that you have a point that if the court does find Grokster to be illegal, they need to make sure that the decision is not overreaching.

I'm just concerned that peopel seem to start drifting towards the argument that if P2P is legal, anything that uses the technology should also be legal.

Oral Arguments (2, Interesting)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824595)

Oral arguments in this case will be held March 29. I am strongly considering making the trip up to DC for this one, especially since it's on a day when I only have one class and, frankly, MGM v. Grokster is slightly more interesting than Criminal Law. But my newfound loyalty to class attendance (compare to my undergraduate days, when I actually had a class that I only went to for exams and to get the syllabus the first day (I got a B)) will probably trump any desire to hear what the Supreme Court justices have to say on the matter in their colloquy with counsel.

Is anyone in the DC area going to go?

Re:Oral Arguments (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824710)

I am strongly considering making the trip up to DC for this one,

It has been a few years since I was in the court house (as an observer, not involved in the proceedings) I sugest you check o make sure that you do not need to make any form of "reservation/tckets" in order to be there (like you do for the capitol building and congress). I can't remmeber if my teacher at the time made some arangements or not for the ~10 of us that went. But better check just to be sure.

Re:Oral Arguments (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824782)

Unless you have an in with one of the Justices, you can't be assured of a seat. Instead it's on a first come, first serve basis. On a good day, for cases that no one cares much about, this means getting there around 6 or 7 in the morning, and waiting outside to be admitted to the gallery. For a big case, it's a good idea to be prepared to start lining up the night before.

Re:Oral Arguments (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824723)

MGM v. Grokster is slightly more interesting than Criminal Law.

Well yeah, it's sort of like the lab portion (except for the whole civil thing).

But my newfound loyalty to class attendance [...] will probably trump any desire to hear what the Supreme Court justices have to say on the matter

There will be a criminal law class next semester. The supremes only rule on a given case once.

Re:Oral Arguments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824800)

I thought they ruled on Sony v. Betamax already?

If P2P is so valuable... (4, Insightful)

Mori Chu (737710) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824616)

If P2P is so valuable, then everyone who uses it to steal movies and music should realize that they're abusing something important. Those of us who use BitTorrent to get Linux distros and legal content don't really appreciate the fact that 30% of the entire Internet's traffic is from the transfer of pirated BitTorrent files, especially if that potentially leads to anti-P2P legislation.

EFF (5, Insightful)

Aaron England (681534) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824638)

This is why I contribute. [eff.org]

Re:EFF (0)

eobanb (823187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824751)

C'mon mods, why is this off topic? He's suggesting a way to help support an organisation fighting for our rights, and that's what this is all about. The EFF knows what they're doing.

Note: I'm not affiliated with the EFF in any way.

I hate professors (3, Insightful)

jgalun (8930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824644)

This has nothing to do with P2P as a method of communicating data. This has everything to do with the providers of P2P networks providing reasonable safeguards against copyright infringement, which, like it or not, is the law of the land.

Saying that P2P is an important network standard and therefore grokster cannot be held liable for what it enables with its software is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves.

There is a difference between eliminating a transmission method and policing the items that are actually purveyed. For example, everyone lives in a house. But that doesn't mean that we can't be against crackhouses, or that we can't demand that landlords take precautions to safeguard against their property being used as crackhouses.

If you are against copyright infringement, fine. If you don't think that the safeguards being proposed against copyright infringement over P2P networks are reasonable, fine. But don't pretend that this is an attack on P2P itself. The truth is that P2P networks have made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against copyright infringement. The industries have every right to demand that P2P networks be held to the same standards that other transmission methods are held, and to claim that the very Internet is under attack is a red herring.

Bad analogy -- you won't like it but try this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824762)

In the library example, it is the library that put the book/periodical/whatever on its shelves. That's not the case here, because (real) P2P software manufacturers aren't in the transmission path for sharing of copyrighted works.

This is more like the government asking copier manufacturers to design their machines so that someone who buys one and takes it home cannot copy U.S. Government currency with it...

Re:I hate professors (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824768)

Should SBC be held liable if people use their phonenet to plan crimes? What about Ford if their product is used to excape from a crime scene?

Re:I hate professors (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824774)

So should we also hold companies, that provide advertisement benefits through adware software development , be held responsible for the damages their software causes to systems, networks and bandwidth?

Re:I hate professors (5, Insightful)

William_Lee (834197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824785)

"Saying that P2P is an important network standard and therefore grokster cannot be held liable for what it enables with its software is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves."

Your analogy inadvertently argues for the opposite of what you and MGM are proposing. Many of us still believe that people have the right to publish books without government censorship or interference.

Re:I hate professors (5, Insightful)

Kaa (21510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824815)

is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves.

Newsflash for you. In the United States, the goverment CANNOT request that such a book be taken off library shelves. And that's a good thing.

The truth is that P2P networks have made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against copyright infringement.

LOL. You know, the phone companies made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against criminals using their equipment and networks to plan nefarious deeds. The federal government made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against bank robbers using the highway system to get to the banks.

The industries have every right to demand that P2P networks be held to the same standards that other transmission methods are held

Aah, I see you are getting it :-) Since "other transmission methods" are not required to provide any safeguards, the P2P networks shouldn't be either. I agree :-)

Re:I hate professors (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824816)

This has nothing to do with P2P as a method of communicating data. This has everything to do with the providers of P2P networks providing reasonable safeguards against copyright infringement, which, like it or not, is the law of the land.

So creators of FTPd, HTTPd, SMTPd, NNTPd, etc should all have to write in "reasonable" safeguards to stop copyrighted material from passing over their software?

Honestly, that can't work, I am free to move my copyrighted software from machine to machine to machine via FTP, HTTP, etc. That would put an end to the usefulness of these programs.

BTW -- I have talked about "reasonable" before. What's reasonable [slashdot.org] ? I suppose in this day and age being "reasonable" all depends on how much money was slipped into the pockets of our law makers.

Re:I hate professors (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824825)

Saying that P2P is an important network standard and therefore grokster cannot be held liable for what it enables with its software is the equivalent of saying that, since libraries are essential to the transmission of information, the government cannot request that the book "Practical Guide to Terrorist Attacks" be taken off library shelves.

Except with libraries, they can choose to remove the book permanently, and don't have to worry about anyone renaming the book to "Pr@ct1c4l Gyd3 +0 +3rr0r1st @++@ck5". The libraries specifically choose what books to have on their shelves. In P2P, it is up to the users, not the software providers.

The truth is that P2P networks have made absolutely no effort to provide even minimal safeguards against copyright infringement.

So tell us how they could provide any safegaurd that would actually do anything? Block any file that contains the name "christina agulera"? Block all MP3s? You just blocked images of a singer and any MP3 that someone chooses to freely distribute. Hashes don't work as you can do a very slightly different encode(add 1ms of silence to the beginning, for example).

The industries have every right to demand that P2P networks be held to the same standards that other transmission methods are held, and to claim that the very Internet is under attack is a red herring.

So lets talk about other transmission methods. The Telephone, for example. Telephone companies are not held liable for any illegal activity discused over their networks. If I plot to kill someone with you over the phone line, Verizon or Southern Bell or whoever is our ISP and long distance company are immune from prosecution.

Finally, at what point is a program no longer a P2P or file sharing application? Does AIM, IRC, HTTP and FTP count?

Sigh.... (4, Insightful)

Viceice (462967) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824647)

"First, the United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. P2P networks are not new developments in network design, but rather the design on which the Internet itself is based."

Exactly. I cringe every time I read about some clueless politician or corporate figure point to a fundamental part of the Internet and call it a new and emerging evil.

For instance, the Internet was designed with redundancy in mind, when where a dead end is put in place, data can find another route to it's destination. Then you have some idiotic politician out to try and score points saying he wants the censor the whole of the internet of porn, free speech etc "for the sake of the children" Please.

And then you have idiots in marketing who think that the Internet "Is a big untapped market" of people who are just itching to come to their dingy website spend billions.

Sigh...

Test (4, Insightful)

Goo.cc (687626) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824648)

The problem for MGM is that Grokster, along with other file sharing services, doesn't actually infringe on anything, although they do provide an avenue for doing so. Using MGM's thinking, the Internet as a whole should also be eliminated since it can be used to distribute material illegally.

Don't get me wrong; I am highly critical of those who wrongly distribute copyrighted material, but Grokster (in and of itself) is not to blame for this.

Re:Test (2, Interesting)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824686)

using MGM's logic, we should not be able to own movies and allow our friends to see them

NRA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824652)

You'd think that the NRA may have an interest in seeing P2P kept legal. If something can be outlawed based on its potential for illegal use, how long would it be before all guns are outlawed? Anyone think of enlisting their help? Whatever your view of them or gun control in general, they would be a powerful ally in this fight.

Also, I think it's an interesting comment on our society that P2P, which (arguably) deprives megacorps of potential profit is closer to being outlawed than guns, which deprive everyday citizens of their lives.

Re:NRA (3, Interesting)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824784)

This is a civil matter, and is not as explicitly provided for in the Constitution as is the right to keep and bear arms. The main question here is whether MGM can sue Grokster for contributory copyright infringement. Note that the NRA aims to achieve its goals by legislative lobbying rather than amicus briefs to the Supreme Court - the gunmakers immunity bill of last year that they supported, for example, would have prevented you from suing Glock if someone shot you with a Glock. The NRA is better at throwing money at a problem than they are considering anything but their one-track understanding of what constitutes a "problem."

On a side note, the problem I had with that bill was that the courts should be making that distinction on their own, and the bill itself could have led to you being unable to sue Glock if you were shooting one and it exploded in your face. I am not an NRA fanboy, but I support many of the things they do nonetheless. This is just not their area of expertise.

Will We Get a Landmark Ruling? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824653)

This will be interesting, but I'm a little nervous about *where* the Supreme Court will take this one. Applying constitutionality to modern technology is a little tricky; Roe v Wade, for instance, gave us a ruling based on the combined interpretation of several amendments resulting in a "right to privacy."

Are p2p networks covered by our right to gather? Our right to associate? Our right to privacy? Which amendments will apply to the laws being challenged?

I certainly hope for a ruling favorable towards p2p. But not just for p2p--also because whatever ruling gets handed down will likely set a lot of precedent for other cases where corporate interests weigh in against developing technology.

Free Sony PlayStation Portables [tinyurl.com] from Gratis.

Substantial non-infringing uses (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824661)

I make it a point to make available on Gnutella the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, works by Thoreau, Poe and Twain, along with mp3's of early jazz blues albums all of which is in the public domain. I consider this my contribution to "Substantial non-infringing uses", I encourage everyone to do the same.

new name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824680)

If referring to napsterish programs by the acronym "P2P" is misleading then we need a new one to replace it dont we. How about MFSP for "mass file sharing program"?

In order to win this (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824690)

In order to win this, they'll have to demonstrate a use of P2P that exists today in wider spread use than the copyrighted file-sharing networks do.

What examples will they use?

Re:In order to win this (2, Insightful)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824772)

linux distributions?

http://www.filerush.com

Or are we talking specifically clients like Morpheus , et al?

There are a LOT of conspiracy theory documents, etc on P2P networks (or there were last time I used one) that would certainly qualify as a free speech use.

There are also loads of personal photos that people apparently want to share with the world.

It's also a viable distribution method for independent artists.

The list goes on and on and on.

Re:In order to win this (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824803)

No no... I mean, what's being distributed in higher volume than copyrighted material?

Neither side likely to be happy. (1)

Codeak (586463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824726)

While cases reviewed by the Supreme Court useally get clarity, that clarity is normally limited in application. Even if the SC rules that P2P is legit, the door for the RIAA and others to continue persue the P2P companies and users will likely be left wide open. Regardless the effect will be limited to confines of the USA.

Is it legal to record off the radio? (3, Interesting)

timjdot (638909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824744)


If the Supreme Court is truly serous about Copyright Law then it will need to enact a heavy Copyright Infringement Tax on any goods being shipping in from China and other coutries where the Copyright Law is Totally Abused. Forget dinkering around with filesharing networks that cost pennies in relation to the world practice of not paying $10/movie like US citizens have to do to see the movie!

When I was a kid people used to record tapes off the radio. Is that legal?

If so, why not make a frieTunes that sucks songs off the Internet radio stations and, if you have a radio card, the radio? Just tell fT what you want and it trolls for it and then sucks it into your personal listening library.

BTW, corporations are having a hard time adapting their business models to new technology. One thing history has shown is that countries that burn their fleets to hide exposure to the rest of the world (China) or ignore technology (battery in India) fell woefully behind. Allowing a supreme court to drive technology adoption is ludicrous.

We all know that technology such as file sharing is not going to die. Some country will have copyright-bypassing DVD burners by the end of the year and then, again, China will sell movies for $1 while the USA people are gouged for $10 at the theater! So, then the US government-backed economists will tell us the cost of living is lower is why our jobs are making a mass exodus but have not the fortitude to admit they have enacted a legal system that financially attacks Americans/lets other coutries off scott free.

Sadly, this is a case of extracting money from whoever can pay rather than enforcing legal justice. To continue to turn a blind eye on the rampant Copyright Infringements in Asia while attacking filesharing is like giving a speeding ticket to the guy late for work while failing to even investigate thefts (oh yeah, I'm wure we've all experienced this!!!).

Re:Is it legal to record off the radio? (1, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824788)

When I was a kid people used to record tapes off the radio. Is that legal?

Short answer - no.

You can't be pro-P2P software and anti-gun rights (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11824749)

Gun rights may involve life or death, but the arguement is the same for both--just because the tool can be used for bad doesn't mean the tool should be illegal. Rather, the person using the tool for an illegal use should be punished.

The Betamax Case (2, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 9 years ago | (#11824764)

It's not The VHS Case. It's The Betamax Case.

I submit that Betamax has done more for this world than VHS ever will from this case alone. Thank you Sony! And I'm sorry the format didn't achieve better acceptance.

I'm especially reminded of this ever time I do a visual scan on a VHS machine, that has never worked as smoothly and easily as Betascan[tm] did from its very first incarnation.

RIP Betamax. Gone, but never forgotten!

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