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Supreme Court Takes Hard Look at P2P

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the under-the-judicial-microscope dept.

The Courts 489

Patrick Mannion writes "Supreme Court justices quizzed attorneys for file-swapping software companies and Hollywood studios Tuesday, in a case that will help determine the future of both the technology and entertainment industries. In their questions, the justices were critical of the entertainment industry's proposal, which would hold companies "predominantly" supported by piracy liable for copyright infringement. However, they showed little sympathy for the file-swapping companies' business model."

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078210)

.________________________________________________. | ______________________________________._a,____ | Press contact: | _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | Gary Niger | __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ | gary_niger@gnaa.us | _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ | GNAA Corporate Headquarters | _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ | 143 Rolloffle Avenue | ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ | Tarzana, California 91356 | _________#1__________?________________________ | | _________j1___________________________________ | All other inquiries: | ____a,___jk_GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_ | Enid Al-Punjabi | ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ | enid_indian@gnaa.us | ______-"!^____________________________________ | GNAA World Headquarters ` _______________________________________________' 160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

Activist Court (1, Flamebait)

s1283134 (660354) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078212)

With the level of activism that is going on with this court this can't be good.

Re:Activist Court (4, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078399)

With the level of activism that is going on with this court this can't be good.

Exactly! Keep the decisions in Congress, where they are more easily bought and paid for!

From the sound of it, the court is taking a reasonable approach. Have some faith in the institution, they have a hell of a track record.

Re:Activist Court (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078403)

Heh, the sad thing is that what Republicans and Democrats alike call "activism", most normal people call "applying the constitution". Read the majority and opposition opinions of most of their cases. Rarely do any of them read "I'm a Democrat and your Republican law sucked ass so we're cancelling it" or vice versa.

Supreme Court Takes Hard Look At P2P... (2, Funny)

ElVaquero (867318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078215)

...finds it delicious!

Belh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078216)

Post First!?

re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

spacepimp (664856) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078230)

pure gibberish

Business Model? (5, Insightful)

Ioldanach (88584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078231)

What do the "business models" have to do with this? There are file sharing clients out there that are entirely free and have no company behind them to have a "business model". Not everybody's selling something.

Re:Business Model? (1, Interesting)

baudilus (665036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078291)

But the most popular are - and holding a company responsible for what people do with their legitimate software is wrong. This argument has been made before. No one sues Smith & Wesson because their product was used in a shooting. I think this is good news for P2P.

Re:Business Model? (4, Insightful)

jumpingfred (244629) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078312)

You don't follow the news at all do you. Gun manufactures are getting sued becuase their guns were used in crimes.

Re:Business Model? (4, Interesting)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078401)

There's a difference between getting sued and losing a lawsuit. Can you demonstrate one news article of a court deciding that a gun manufacturer was liable for injuries or deaths intentionally caused by use of their products? (Settlements with no admission of responsibility and legitimate products liability lawsuits, such as "I shot your gun at a target and the gun blew up in my hand," do not count.)

Re:Business Model? (5, Informative)

Ioldanach (88584) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078493)

Can you demonstrate one news article of a court deciding that a gun manufacturer was liable for injuries or deaths intentionally caused by use of their products?

Yes, I can.

N.Y. jury finds some gun makers liable in shootings [cnn.com]

Not that I personally agree with it.

Re:Business Model? (4, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078576)

Fair enough, and I disagree with the jury on this; but there is at least a rational basis for their finding, which is that the gun maker negligently allowed their guns to fall into criminal hands. I don't think that they owed such a duty, but evidently in New York they did. (There are many reasons I will never live in New York, and this kind of thinking is but one of them.)

I do wonder if the gun makers found liable in that case appealed the matter. News stories about lawsuits always piss me off because they only announce two things: filed lawsuits and dollars given. If a case is dismissed as frivolous by a judge, that never gets reported; and if a case is appealed, that never gets reported. For instance, the McDonald's coffee case was ill-reported as it was, but the media didn't tell you that the woman's award was significantly reduced after the jury verdict was announced. Simply put, the vast majority of what happens in court isn't news-worthy. (Although if it happens in criminal court and there is a celebrity defendant, somehow everything that happens becomes monumental and deserving of widespread media coverage. What color underwear was Jacko wearing in court today, anyhow?)

Re:Business Model? (1)

dmd (404) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078335)

No one sues gun companies because their guns were used in a shooting?

What planet have you been living on? This has happened many times.

Re:Business Model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078356)

No one sues Smith & Wesson because their product was used in a shooting.


I beg to differ...unless everything John Grisham and the movie industry have been telling me is a lie...

Re:Business Model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078427)

There's something we've been meaning to discuss with you...

Re:Business Model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078428)

Yes, the movie industry is the apitamy of truth and information distribution.

Re:Business Model? (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078357)

Yeah, and there are some that are run by businesses selling ads and spyware. Those are the companies being talked about in the article, not the stuff that lets you pirate for free with no strings attached.

Re:Business Model? (4, Insightful)

12345Doug (706366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078414)

If their (P2P comapnies) entire business model is to profit off of known/suspected illegal activities it could very well be important in the ruling. After all P2P must show substantial legal uses to gain a favorable ruling. If the justices don't see that based on the business models it could bode ill for P2P. Just my 2 cents.

Re:Business Model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078483)

Would it "bode ill for P2P" or "bode ill for P2P when the client is a spyware and adware riddled piece of crap"?

Re:Business Model? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078458)

If they think P2P companies business model's are bad...take a look at tobacco and even the fast food industries.

Tobacco CEO "Hey, were lying to & killing our customers for money, but so what, it makes us cash to pay the suckers in congress to keep them off our backs!"

McDonald's CEO: "Let's hire a bunch of low paid workers and get rich off of them. Slaves even made more money than what were paying them!"

Re:Business Model? (1)

negative3 (836451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078505)

maybe they're disconcerted by some clients' apparent lack of a business model. some business people probably don't understand creating something without charging for it. it doesn't seem with the focus on patents nowadays that some would support creating technology that helps people and doesn't make you rich at the same time.

Re:Business Model? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078507)

You don't have to be in business to have a business model. For instance, in the early days, Linux did not have any business prospects whatsoever, but that did not preclude Linus from adopting a particular business model with the goal of widespread use and development of his kernel. The same applies here.

Also, the big concern here is that people can and will build business models around what the law allows and what it proscribes. If you know that you can get away with it because there is exactly one legal use for your service, but that you will make millions on the illegal use, you will build a business around that. (Consider a package carrier that carries one box of doughnuts and 99 boxes of cocaine from New Mexico to Wyoming every day.) This is bad.

The competing concern is, of course, that you don't want to destroy services that are used mostly for legal but occasionally for illegal purposes. (Reconsider the package carrier, which has carried a billion boxes of doughnuts this year but someone snuck a pound of cocaine into one box of doughnuts.) This is also bad.

Business models have a lot to do with everything.

Re:Business Model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078573)

"Business Model" is a plan that has anything to do with the exchange of money or service or, in this case, the lack of exchange of money for service. The the P2P case, this is a barter of intellectual property. The question then becomes: do you have the right to barter the intellectual property or is your right, upon purchase of media, to use the intellectual property in only its intended format?

It is a business model.

Supreme court takes hard look at P2P (5, Funny)

Winckle (870180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078234)

P2P says "what are you staring at?"

Re:Supreme court takes hard look at P2P (1)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078381)

You misspelled "What are you looking at? Butthead."

Re:Supreme court takes hard look at P2P (1)

evilmousse (798341) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078402)


maybe the spirit of p2p -IS- eric duckman; the selection most networks have (lotsa pr0n) would lend to his tastes too.. ..what the hell are YOU starin at??

More proof the Supremes work for Business (-1, Flamebait)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078239)

and not small business, but Big Business.

sigh.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (2, Informative)

enforcer999 (733591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078278)

What proof? The Supremes were equally critical of both sides.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (2, Funny)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078404)

More proof that you, enforcer999, are working not for small business, but big business. Sigh.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (1)

enforcer999 (733591) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078508)

More proof that you, enforcer999, are working not for small business, but big business. Sigh. . p? Big business? No, and this is off topic but while your at it...I actually sue big business. The Supremes have often ruled against big business and my point was that in this case, the Supremes asked both sides some critical questions that will be important for their final ruling on the matter of P2P, their business model and the right to have innovative technology.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078512)

What proof? The Supremes were equally critical of both sides.

If anything the questions from the bench I read tended to support the little guy.

They were especially concerned that the hypothetical garage-based inventor of the iPod would be unable to bring his product to market for the near certainty of being crushed by copyright infringement claims were the case decided in favor of MGM.

The attorney for MGM tried to argue for an active inducement requirement for such claims, but we have to assume they'd consider "Rip, Mix, Burn" such an active inducement.

I didn't see anything that would alleviate their concerns in the iPod matter and they brought up Betamax as a precedent so it looks like they'll be deciding in favor of Grokster.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078549)

>The Supremes were equally critical of both sides.


That may be so, but after Diana Ross left nobody really listened to them anymore.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (1)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078338)

The Supreme Court justices always ask tough questions of both sides. That's their job. Their questioning usually doesn't betray how they're going to vote.

Also, since when is Intel a 'small business'?

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (1)

alatesystems (51331) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078509)

Even better is reading their rulings. When you read them, it's like you're reading an eloquent novel. I've never read one of their rulings and thought "man this is stupid".

Even if you disagree with them, they do a great job of asking tough questions and addressing tough issues that guide our country as a whole. Their decisions are well laid out and it's really great to read dissenting opinions. Those are always the most fun.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (2, Insightful)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078341)

Er...yeah...and it shows that they want to reverse Roe V Wade and take away our guns too! And...and...kick our dogs!

I mean, come on. The court was being critical on both sides. Hence the part of the justices were critical of the entertainment industry's proposal, which would hold companies "predominantly" supported by piracy liable for copyright infringement.

So to you, when they say they're critical of the entertainment industry's proposals, that means they really not? Er...what you talking bout Willis?

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078343)

<sarcasm> Yes, the fact that Supreme Court justices asked hard questions of attorneys at oral argument, as has been the standard procedure in all oral argument since the dawn of the court system, is proof that those justices "work for Business." </sarcasm>

This is what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to get at every aspect of the controversy at hand. The controversy here is that the music industry thinks that anything that can be used to infringe a copyright is inherently bad, while the other side thinks to the contrary. Howeer, when a technology is predonominantly used for infringing purposes, maybe it is inherently bad.

The reason that the justices were so hard on the respondents' counsel is that they do not want to set a precedent that will allow companies to build a business upon infringing uses just because they have the potential for non-infringing use, but they also don't want to set a precedent that will kill businesses whose services are inadvertently used for infringing uses but are primarily used in a lawful manner.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078539)

I just remember that the US Constitution reserves rights to the states, not the feds, no matter what the current regime desires.

Heck, I still have copyrighted software and magazines that will have my copyright 70 years after I die - and in my family we live about 100 years on average, so I'm expecting my copyrights will expire in 2130 or so. This is just plain wrong.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078568)

"Howeer, when a technology is predonominantly used for infringing purposes, maybe it is inherently bad."

And the movie industry said the same thing about VCRs (See http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?c ourt=us&vol=464&invol=417 [findlaw.com] for the Sony Vs Universal City Studios case).

The argument is more basic than anyone has yet said. It isn't about "predominently used for infringement" more than it is about the ability for the industry to stop technology that it sees as harmful. The same thing happens every time a new technology displaces an older one.

Another place you are seeing this kind of thing going on is in the other case the Supreme Court is hearing today involving ISPs and cabel access.

B.

you're a pandering idiot. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078354)

you karma whoring asshole.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (5, Funny)

rholliday (754515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078398)

Last I checked the Supremes worked for Diana Ross, and they were kind of pissed about it.

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078448)

Argh! Where are my mod points!

Re:More proof the Supremes work for Business (4, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078482)

Yeah, but the Temptations are on the side of the little guy.

They will leave it to congress (3, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078266)

I don't see how they can do anything else given the complexity of the problem and the fact that this does need to be addressed with a fresh set of laws that replace (rather than add to) the existing.

Indeed, many legal observers say the high court is likely to leave the law largely as is and if it wants a different outcome, to ask Congress to change the copyright law.

Re:They will leave it to congress (1)

to_kallon (778547) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078365)

this does need to be addressed with a fresh set of laws

you're presupposing that p2p networks are illegal. the reason this belongs in the courts at this point is because that has not yet been determined. at the conclusion of this case, or if it is thrown out one in the future, we will know if we need new laws or not. it is entirely possible, and feasible imho, for the courts to say, "you cannot prove the inherent illegality of p2p networks, therefore they, as a whole, are legal."

Re:They will leave it to congress (1)

soupdevil (587476) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078409)

I think the presupposition was that p2p networks should be illegal. Hence the need for a fresh set of laws.

Sometimes... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078499)

I don't see how they can do anything else given the complexity of the problem and the fact that this does need to be addressed with a fresh set of laws that replace (rather than add to) the existing.
Indeed, many legal observers say the high court is likely to leave the law largely as is and if it wants a different outcome, to ask Congress to change the copyright law.

Sometimes problems aren't really all that complex, if you take a step back from them and find the correct framework to place them in. Remember the Supreme Court is there to determine how the constitution applies in this case.

I'd really love it if they tacked on some strong clarification, underscoring our right to Fair Use, but they may take a simple approach that all P2P cannot be treated the same as those who use it for piracy, whereas MPAA/RIAA would like to kill all P2P, regardless what it's use is.

I believe it's called Guidance.

Actual Court Transcript (5, Funny)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078269)

RIAA: We are getting screwed.

Supreme Court: How?

RIAA: They are giving our product away.

Techie: I got a one line perl script p2p software.

RIAA: Arrest that thief.

Supreme Court: We'll just rule out that script as illegal and take it off the market.

Techie: Sure.

RIAA: WTF, he's got like 20 scripts in 20 languages.

Re:Actual Court Transcript (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078347)

that's got to be the most interesting, and probably accurate fictional account of an on-coming tech- suit/process. Eventually the courts and lawmakers will figure out that its a genie out of the bottle, and they can not stop such vague ideas (as p2p or great software) from being executed by creative well-informed peoples. Until they do, however, we (the people) will be the ones shat upon.

Transcript (cont'd): (2, Insightful)

dep01 (730107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078348)

Supreme Court: So? We're really only concerned about AMERICAN piracy here. *sighs from the RIAA, smiles from Techie*

More details here (4, Informative)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078275)

SCOTUSblog [scotusblog.com] has a more detailed look at the happenings today.

What about open source p2p (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078279)


who have no buisness model at all ! not that a bad ruling would make a difference , the internet is global , the cat IS out of the bag and congress and their bribers might be suprised that their legal decisions will not affect the other 5 billion people living in countries where their wants and laws have exactly 0 influence

of course the p2p creators will just move to less opressive countries, it works for gambling and porn sites

the "free world" has moved on, unfortunatly corporate America hasn't

Justices (3, Funny)

Excen (686416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078289)

I'm honestly surprised that the Supreme Court Justices even know what a computer is. Then again, I suppose they have to get their porno some way, now that the Meece commission is no longer in business.

Re:Justices (0, Offtopic)

mkeroppi (787650) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078385)

I just like to say they have interns even at the justice branch.

Re:Justices (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078432)

Because we know that the Supreme Court is filled with idiots. They should try to elevate themselves to your level.

On a completely unrelated note, interesting journal entries.

What /. pirates don't want you to know (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078296)

From article:

Don Henley, Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks and other musicians are backing the major recording labels, saying their livelihoods are threatened if millions of people can obtain their songs for nothing.


While there are artists like Chuck D who like file-sharing, that's their choice. /. pirates don't want you to know about all the artists who are against their music being pirated without their permission. The reason is that pirates always try to paint their activities as some sort of revolution for the artists against the big, bad record labels. It's not the case...piracy is just people wanting to get stuff for free.

Re:What /. pirates don't want you to know (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078537)

Don Henley, Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks and other musicians are backing the major recording labels, saying their livelihoods are threatened if millions of people can obtain their songs for nothing.

And that's a bad thing because...?

Re:What /. pirates don't want you to know (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078544)

The reason is that pirates always try to paint their activities as some sort of revolution for the artists against the big, bad record labels. It's not the case...piracy is just people wanting to get stuff for free.

Actually, if we're going to be honest, it's both.

Re:What /. pirates don't want you to know (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078547)

If memory serves me correctly, Sheryl Crow is also against having to sign away ownership of her songs to record companies, too, isn't she? So, the attempt by this AC to make it look like artists like the current system is also one sided. Maybe Sheryl is against her music being stolen on P2P and by her record company...

Usurper_ii

Here's to Nashville (5, Interesting)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078297)

They could only find 18 singer-songwriters in Nashville that were desperate enough to talk / suck up to big-record-industry people that they'd go to DC? Sounds like a pretty weak group of people to me.

I don't hate musicians, or want them to starve, but I hate the slime they have to deal with now to distribute, and I want those people to starve. Twice.

I'm in favor of the entertainment industry having to undergo monstrously painful changes. From what I can see, many people are - the way it is currently designed is destructive to both society and art as a whole. What we hear and see being run by a bunch of profiteering luddites is completely unappealing to me.

Just thought I'd be one of fifty to present this argument in the next ten minutes.

Hmm (5, Insightful)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078303)

They seem to be lumping together the technology used to produce P2P software, and the businesses that use P2P to make profit

This will enable them to make a stronger case in their basic "p2p is bad" argument, when it's not the way it should be. Hopefully they will view the two things differently

sould creators have some rights too.. (4, Insightful)

acomj (20611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078308)

It seems that p2p takes away rights out of those that create things and make them public. Be they songs or photos etc.

P2P is basically publishing. Why should you be allowed to publish my stuff, if I hold the copyright?

These rights go away with time when the copyright expires. (A really stupid long time, thanks congress)

If a creator wants to make something public domain then they can do that. If they want to paid for something they create, they should be able to do that too. (my photos are routinely hot linked as bloggers backgrounds and I don't care, so I don't sue)

Whats with the right to do what you want with whatever you want all of a sudden?

Re:sould creators have some rights too.. (1)

RandLS (637452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078378)

Per existing law, I cannot publish your stuff without your permission. It's called copyright law. Yes, it is illegal for me to put files up for download on a P2P network if I am not legally entitled to do so. Why people seem to equate that to a need to keep keep from developing P2P applications is beyond me.

Re:sould creators have some rights too.. (2, Insightful)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078426)

Whats with the right to do what you want with whatever you want all of a sudden?

Why should "intellectual property owners" have special privileges with regard to their products which allow them to override normal private property rights?

Does a cabinet maker get to control how people use the cabinets that the cabinetmaker has sold them? (I suppose he could always make them sign a contract, but I suspect he'd lose a lot of customers that way.)

The GPL (0, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078542)

Why should "intellectual property owners" have special privileges with regard to their products which allow them to override normal private property rights?


In that case, I guess the GPL doesn't matter. Right?

Barring that, your analogy doesn't even make sense. Someone buying a cabinet isn't able to make exact copies of the cabinet and distribute them to everyone in the neighborhood for free, putting the actual cabinet maker out of business. What right do you have to distribute his cabinet?

Since when did a cabinet become "intellectual property" anyway? What a stupid analogy.

Stupid analogy (1)

acomj (20611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078565)

You can't copy the cabinit and give it away for free can you.. Dumb analogy.

Your point is you should be allowed to do what you want with what you buy. I used to make tape copies of my cds/records to listen in my car. I don't think a single person was every sued for doing that.

The fact that stupid people decide to republish stuff they don't own means the industry and government will push more and more restrictive DRM uppon us, screwing those who just want to enjoy what they've bought.

Re:sould creators have some rights too.. (2, Insightful)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078474)

And shouldn't all those people who WANT to give away their works for free be able to? Because that's the root of this case. Killing the software. And handing the media industry and big business a loaded pistol that they can point at any software company that they don't control.

If they win this, then next they'll be looking at CD burners or whatever else that threatens the industries chokehold on content.

This case comes down to a simple fact: Just because something has possible illegal uses (which are already covered by other laws!), should anyone be able to get that product banned? Or effectively banned, since that's what the ability to be sued by every large company that competes with any given software would mean.

Re:sould creators have some rights too.. (3, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078515)

It's very telling that this completely normal post was marked as "Troll" by some sheep.

The truth is very simple in this situation.

1.) P2P file-sharing is just a technology, neither good nor bad.

2.) Copyright infringement of other people's stuff, no matter how many people try to justify it, is ethically wrong.

The big struggle with this is coming from frightened content owners who realize that people are lazy and don't care and will pirate anything they can get their hands on, simply because human nature is such that if you can get something without paying for it, you will. Frankly, piracy is wrong and always will be wrong, and legal downloading like iTunes is already taking off, which means most pirates are so cheap that they're not willing to spend 99 cents on a song. However, there is nothing wrong with the technology itself, like with VCRs.

Re:sould creators have some rights too.. (2, Insightful)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078546)

There's two Slashdot Official Positions on this, one is an flat-out lie, and the other is naive and stupid. They are:

  • Flat-Out Lie
    "I never use p2p illegally, therefor neither do most people, and therefor it should be illegal." This stems from Slashdot Misconception #1, quoted in my sig, that
    most people are basically like me. There's a corollary to this, which is, "I've bought a ton of music/software/videos/etc/whatever specifically because I got to preview it on p2p first. They're making money off p2p! Those idiots!" These companies spend millions on accountants. They know where their profits losses are coming from.
  • Naive Stupidity
    "Information wants to be free, I shouldn't have to pay for music/books/movies/etc
    in the first place." I won't even touch this because the people who espouse this platitude are impossible to reason with. By "reason with" I don't mean, "convince them that they're wrong," I mean, "convince them that it's POSSIBLE that they're wrong." If somebody can't accept the latter, there's no point in ever talking to them about anything. Sadly, this characterizies about 50% of this community.

I don't like the draconian legal wrangling to restrict software that has legitimate uses.

I don't like the copy-protection schemes and corporate masters who pollute music stores with the computer-enhanced carbon-copy drek that issues forth from the mouths of such talent as N Sync and Jessica Simpson.

I don't like any of this crap better than anybody else does. But there's a reality to face. The overwhelming majority of p2p network use is unquestionably illegal in the USA, and the overwhelming majority of p2p users are unquestioningly violating the law. You and I know that the content cartels won't win this fight through legal means, and you and I know that they're missing the boat on this completely. You and I know that they should be leveraging this technology to their profit rather than bullying 16 year olds with legal action.

But you guys need to, at some point, realize that these companies are protecting property that legally belongs to them (whether or not it should is another issue) and they have every right to do so.

I'll spare you the traditional flawed analogy.

Precedent (1)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078315)

From myway [myway.com]
The trial court in Los Angeles and San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit based their decisions on the 1984 Supreme Court "Betamax" case. The justices ruled Sony Corp. (SNE) couldn't be sued for copyright infringement if some customers used their VCRs to make illegal copies of movies.

Re:Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078349)

like anyone is going to click a myway story [google.com]

Are you looking at me? (0, Offtopic)

grudy (206896) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078320)

This, and many other fine movie and song quotations available for free preview Here!, and HEre, and Here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and... Oh Crap!

Hard Cases = Bad Law (5, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078323)

The trouble is, Grokster is not a sympathetic defendent. The Court have (more or less rightly) noted that the Defendents have build a business model predicated on copyright infringement, and will be inclined to Do Something about it.

Unfortunately, the only tool really before the Court is an overturning of the Betamax doctrine, which was decided with a much more sympathetic defendent.

This is one of the few cases I can think of where the appropriate charge should have been conspiracy. It's a crappy bit of law, but it would actually fit. As it is, I'm afraid that the Defendents may have screwed us all.

Aha! (2, Interesting)

Orangez (871612) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078324)

"However, they showed little sympathy for the file-swapping companies' business model." So there is a business model?

Please don't guilt trip me, it won't help you... (1, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078326)

"We're here to give a face to people being hurt by illegal downloads," said Erin Enderlin, one of the songwriters. "When we don't get paid, we can't pay our rent."

Hey, I am all for supporting artists that support the free distribution of their music. You want to make money from me? Allow your fans to put your live shows up on the various torrent sites (etree, easytree, etc) and I'll take a listen and possibly buy your stuff. If you expect me to take the $10 risk and buy your stuff before getting a good chance of hearing a variety of your music on many different days I can't say I will support you.

I really can't stand the "if we don't get paid we can't pay rent thing." It always seems to me that you're trying to play the MPAA guilt trip thing. I just can't believe that you would do nothing but play music in an attempt to support yourself if you weren't 110% sure you could.

No matter what, if you use that tired rhetoric, I won't buy or listen to your stuff regardless of how it's distributed. Just keep that in mind.

Predominantly Pirate (3, Insightful)

Ossus_10 (844890) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078329)

That was an interesting assertion about the predominance of piracy in P2P. I seem to remember a slashdot article about how the majority of Bittorrent and other P2P services were not used primarily for piracy. Maybe Grokster and StreamCast are different? I'm sure that wont help them. They need to focus on all the little old ladys that use P2P to send pictures of their Grandkids to the world. Ossus

Prediction: Court rules in favor of P2P. Heres why (4, Insightful)

eyefish (324893) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078332)

P2P is like the the kitchen knife: You can use it to cook or you can use it to kill people, but just because you can kill people doesn't mean we should prohibit everyone from using a knife to cook.

Likewise, you can't restrict people's ussage of P2P just because P2P it is also used for piracy, after all P2P is probably one of the most useful networking patterns in existence for all kinds of things.

If I were the enterntainment industry, I'd embrace P2P as it solves one of the biggest problems they face today: Bandwith to millions of people. This just goes on to show that the people running the enterntainment industry are dinosaurs falling behind the times.

Re:Prediction: Court rules in favor of P2P. Heres (4, Insightful)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078535)

P2P is like the the kitchen knife: You can use it to cook or you can use it to kill people, but just because you can kill people doesn't mean we should prohibit everyone from using a knife to cook.

I like the analogy, but I'd say that modern P2P is more like the broadsword--you can use it to cook or you can use it to kill people, but you can be damn sure that it was designed with a specific purpose in mind...

Yes, P2P is used for plenty of legal activity. A P2P application, in and of itself, does not violate the law. You're lying to yourself, though, if you suggest that the driving force behind P2P is anything other than illegal file sharing.

I, too, think that the court will find in favor of P2P, but honestly, there are no good guys in court today. One side is a pack of morally bankrupt, lying weasels who claim to be looking out for the little guy but are really in it for the money--but I don't care too much for the other side, either.

Thank God there's UseNet (4, Funny)

almound (552970) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078346)

Don't tell the Supremes about it, OK?

When Law and Technology Fail (5, Interesting)

rawyin (870144) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078350)

Darwin, while disputed frequently, did a decent job of proving that which fails to adapt will fade into history. Unfortunately when the times show you have no recourse to stop an action, you will do more damage to yourself to try and hold back the tides.

I anticipate a ruling in favor of file sharing networks. I suspect this ruling primarily because:

  1. Historic case law supports the idea
  2. There are too many legitimate purposes in existence today
  3. The government more often than not rules in favor of the people

Hopefully such a ruling will encourage the RIAA to redefine themselves and evolve into something better

Or at least get rid of a few of the fluff artists.

Re:When Law and Technology Fail (1)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078534)

Indeed, define point to point. Is IRC not a form of P2P? MSN Messenger? The DNS system? Routing and networking in general?

Couldn't point-to-point be interpreted as "a way of sending arbitrary data through one or more peers to get from source or destination".

In the majority of cases, this arbitrary data is not a file. More, something along the lines of "who has xyz?" and "connect to abc". The actual filetransfer is frequently done direct.

But then if anyone patents that idea, we're all screwed ;)

It will be interesting as to what case the prosecution tries to make, nevertheless

The scary part about it is... (5, Insightful)

BlackMesaResearchFac (593320) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078352)

I agree that the Supreme Court will likely keep things as is and move on, but once this issue gets to Congress, watch out...

Then it becomes entirely about who is lining whose pockets. The RIAA, with the help of some of its friends, has a decent shot at buying what it wants.

Granted there are opponents w/ money, but the RIAA has proven to be very motivated.

Re:The scary part about it is... (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078433)

it has been stated, no matter what side loses they will be rushing off to congress to solitify their "rights"

what's the best way to support musicians? (5, Insightful)

rjnagle (122374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078374)

It seems likely that the Supreme Court will not overturn the lower Court's decision, and that is good for artists and consumers. Good riddance to the big labels [downhillbattle.org] , I say.

But the question of compensating artists has not been addressed. We need to create an environment where downloaders want to support musicians they love rather than simply downloading their stuff for free.

Musicians need to start setting up tipjars [imaginaryplanet.net] and consumers need to ask rigorous question about how much of anything they purchase goes to an intermediary.

I recently went to a concert of Kristin Hersh where she sold no CD's but encouraged people to support her by buying mp3's of demos off her website [throwingmusic.com] . I bought $20 of mp3's off her website, of which Hersh received a significant percentage. Is that the future?

Here are some other thoughts about how to reward musicians [idiotprogrammer.com]

Tip Jars dilbert... (1)

acomj (20611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078518)

You see the dilbert where the boss wants engineers to work for tips.

Laughable..

Buying direct is a better way. I try to buy cds at shows because I feel the artist gets more.

If you can promote your artists better than the big labels you go ahead.. You'll make $.

Why no one has set up a decent music review/sample site is beyond me. with "pod casted" reviews and samples that would be neat.

For what its worth itunes sells many small label bands.

...by going to their shows! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078557)

The recorded music business is dying, but not the concert business.

Ridiculousness.... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078390)

Suing P2P providers for the actions of their users is like suing gun manufacturers for the actions of murderers.

When you download copyrighted music... (1, Redundant)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078392)

...you are making the RIAA's case for them.

Oh yeah, this too [modernhumorist.com] .

Count me in (2, Interesting)

soupdevil (587476) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078431)

as a Hollywood content provider rooting for the p2p networks.

business issues (3, Interesting)

badxmaru (545902) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078435)

If you look at it from the POV of the businesses, they have these huge organizations where there's massive overhead between the artist and the receiver. Much of this goes to marketing, paying for coffee, internet usage by interns, the like. But the problem is that they all are publicly listed stocks and they have fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to make sure they return value. This value of course is reflected in the stock price. These companies are on a hot plate to fix a problem which has been verily disruptive ever since it came into being. In the good ole days, sharing a CD was limited to those who were on solid lists, knew couriers or simply picked a large barrelled pistol and robbed a Tower Records. Nowadays, it's almost an expected experience that people have when they sign onto broadband.
By suing these sharing networks, the industry is trying to alleviate its "systemic" risk, allowing at least perceptions of control to come into play. Albeit this is a false sense of control, Sharman et al couldn't possibly be considered liable for what downloaders of their software do, but they're going to make a case for it regardless.

In a back room somewhere, some finance intern has calculated that by liquidating all these software developers in a successful law suit will apply the current value of those companies and bring the music industry to a break-even point which will in turn allow them to make their stock numbers. Allowing the CEO's and likewise glorified fattened calves to keep their jobs and drive their $100,000 motorcars, live in their million dollar homes, and guarantee their children into Harvard and Yale through endownment donations.

Yay Capitalism.

predominant (4, Insightful)

MattW (97290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078445)

Given a bunch of P2P programs, infringers of a feather are going to flock together. Even wit the best intentions of providing a legitimate service, one service will end up known as the 'best place' to trade copyrighted files, and people will go there.

You can shoot the messenger, but another will rise in its place.

Note to the RIAA/MPAA: profit from P2P, instead of trying to fight it. You've just had the most powerful and potentially convenient distribution method in the world dropped in your laps, and it costs you nothing to distribute content now. If you can't find a way to increase your profits in light of that, then you deserve extinction. Someone will rise to replace you, too.

Re:predominant (1)

badxmaru (545902) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078480)

problematically they're unable to adapt to this new development. There's a business term called marketing nearsightedness, you can only see what's up close and in front of you. These businesses think all they do is sell CD's. Anything that's not, is not a model they can assimilate into their business plans.

Looks good (4, Insightful)

PxM (855264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078463)

All of the previous courts that have ruled on this case have sided with P2P. Probably because the P2P side has been making the argument that P2P is just the next version of VCRs, audio tapes, etc. Also the Constitution says that the purpose of copyright laws is to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" and the P2P side has artists saying that the tech is good for them because it helps them get their stuff out. The RIAA's argument is pretty much "we're losing money" rather than "the arts are being destroyed" so they have a harder argument to pull off. There is also the strong evidence showing that many people who use P2P do buy the music later on. While this is still technically illegal, it ends up promoting the arts so this is probably a Good Thing in the eyes of the Founders.

--
Want a free iPod? [freeipods.com]
Or try a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox. [freegamingsystems.com] (you only need 4 referrals)
Wired article as proof [wired.com]

Rochester Institute of Technology (1)

DOGGGG (871697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078490)

I do not file swap but this still makes me feel queazy.RIT bought into the RIAA distribution plan for colleges, I forget what they called it but you basicly buy music to use while at school beyond that I think you no longer have a the right. http://rit.edu TO: RIT Students The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is sending notices to RIT of its intention to subpoena the identity of specific RIT computer users. This intention is a significant ramp up of the RIAAs efforts to stop illegal file sharing. RIAA has targeted specific computer accounts used to access and transmit such files, and issued subpoenas to the service providers in order to obtain the names and contact information of those responsible for the file-sharing. The notices RIT receives are associated with students living in RIT residences or using the wireless network at RIT. Such notices are in preparation for a lawsuit against the individuals RIAA believes have violated copyright law by illegally downloading and uploading music via file-sharing programs. RIT policy is not to release the names or contact information of our computer users unless required to do so by law. Should RIAA pursue legal action, RIT may be compelled to release the identities of these individuals. To avoid legal action over inappropriate file-sharing, it is important you understand the proper use of RIT computing resources. While some file-sharing is lawful, some file-sharing is not. Some programs used to download files from the Internet often, unbeknownst to the recipient, turn the individual's computer into a file-sharing (uploading) server. Even unknowingly uploading copyrighted works may subject you to legal risk. RIT assumes that students lawfully use RIT computer and network resources. The RIT Code of Conduct for Computer and Network Use provides use guidelines: http://www.rit.edu/computerconduct If you have any questions about appropriate use of RIT computer and network resources, you may contact the ITS HelpDesk at 475-4357 or the TTY line at 475-2810, email helpdesk@rit.edu or visit the HelpDesk in the Gannett Building (7B-1113). Diane Barbour Chief Information Officer Information & Technology Services Rochester Institute of Technology 585 475 2233 Mary-Beth Cooper Vice President for Student Affairs Rochester Institute of Technology 585-475-2267

Can Someone Explain (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078498)

Would it be illegal to use the p2p client or write the software? In either case, WTF can the US supreme cort do? A lot of the p2p software is used and written outside the US.

The Best Part of This (3, Interesting)

filmmaker (850359) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078523)

Is how there is absolutely ZERO discussion of the artists themselves. What do they want? Not even an issue. How can we help make sure they are supported and that we, the labels, can keep them as talent in our stable? Not an issue. And you'd think that second one would be; you'd think that the long term implications of keeping good talent happy and keeping consumers happy and buying would enter this thought process

The term I heard used today was "inducement." Basically, can it be argued that Grokster induces crime. I sure hope this thing is laughed out of court because, while I understand that physical world analogies fail and it's more complicated than a lot of folks will admit, the precedent that would be set if software is found to be inherently criminal would have the potential to set us into a freakin dark ages.

I mean, it's already happening [slashdot.org] .

Hey we can map there argument to other issues! (1)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078529)

What about any company whose business is predominantly supported by unhealthy food sales should be liable for unhealthy people that consume that food. Or web sites predominantly supported by unwanted advertising be held liable for unwanted stress by viewers or.... I know they are not the same argument, but I am sorry but P2P related software has a lot of legitimate uses and its crap that they try to shut them down because ppl use it for illegal purposes as well. Ummm guns are used a lot for illegal purposes but they aren't gonna shut down them now are they.

Working Artists? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12078532)

I have zero sympathy for musicians in this situation. I remember the OLD days when they had to "perform" live to earn a living. Now they complain about not being able to sell retouched recordings from the comfort of their MTV crib jacuzzi's. So pitiful. All this P2P stuff doesn't seem to have made a dent in MTV cribs.

NPR puff piece on the subject (4, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078561)

This morning, National Public Radio ran a piece on the upcoming SCOTUS arguments. To my disappointment, it was a industry-friendly puff piece [npr.org] that didn't even attempt to find a valid use for the file-sharing technology. It could have been written by an RIAA PR rep, especially given the number of times they used the phrase "downloading copyrighted works". The only opposing view was a short whine by someone with Grokster about their business model.

Usually, NPR excels in their reporting. But on this subject (as well as the subject of low-power FM broadcasting, another place where public radio puts its own interests above those of the public) they fall way short.

Nothing new about the questions they ask (2, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 9 years ago | (#12078566)

In their questions, the justices were critical of the entertainment industry's proposal, which would hold companies "predominantly" supported by piracy liable for copyright infringement. However, they showed little sympathy for the file-swapping companies' business model."

IANAL, especially not one who brings cases before the supreme court, but of what little I know of judges this isn't a surprise.

I've had a few traffic tickets and I've even taken an old landlord to court. Every one of those judges, fair as they were, were highly critical, probative, and stern in their questioning of both sides. In other words, they were grumpy and downright rude. However, fortunately in my cases, they showed no favoritism to either side and ruled impartially. I expect this behavior they gave to both sides. Hell if you think your case is important enough to take to the surpreme court you damn well better take any kind of rudeness they give you and say "yes your honor may I have another?"

A big part of this is because judges are never trained to be nice. Judges especially, but laywers in general often seem to lack basic courtesies, especially in court. Another large part of it is because the US system is set up as an advesarial system so there's a lot of bad vibes in a court room that would make anyone stressed and grumpy. But the biggest part is they are simply getting down to business and trying to find the facts. Setting both sides on their heels by asking tough questions is how the supreme court works and how they come to the final answer. If you are coming to the highest court in the land you better come prepared with some pretty damn good answers.

Enough media hype of the judicial process... I want to know the answer the surpreme court comes up with!
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