March 28, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Top court to hear landmark P2P case Tuesday

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by saying that technologies with "substantial noninfringing use" are legal, even if they are used in some cases for copyright piracy. That's protected the VCR, MP3 players and even personal computers from being taken off shelves.

Record labels and Hollywood studios say they don't want to overturn that test, but they do want to clarify it. Any company whose products are "predominately" used for copyright infringement--as they say the Grokster and Morpheus file-trading software is--should be held liable for that activity, they say.

That's a terrifying idea to much of the technology industry. Forcing manufacturers to evaluate how their products would be used before release, under threat of legal liability, would prevent much technological progress from happening at all, they say.


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"Such predications are impossible in the real world, especially since the uses to which products are put routinely change over time," semiconductor giant Intel wrote in a brief filed with the court. "Innovators such as Intel would grow timid (and) would have no choice but to withhold from the market socially and economically useful products."

The two sides will face each other in the Supreme Court halls on Tuesday morning, for a brief oral-argument period. Court watchers will listen carefully to the tone and content of the justices' questioning, but a final decision isn't expected until mid-June.

Even that isn't likely to settle the legal issues, however. The court has only the power to rule on what Congress has passed, and the losing side is likely to return to Capital Hill to seek legislation. In the end, the final lines of the Supreme Court's Betamax decision in 1984 may predict the future of file swapping two decades later.

"It may well be that Congress will take a fresh look at this technology, just as it so often has examined other innovations in the past," the court wrote then. "But it is not our job to apply laws that have not yet been written."

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music market lost only 12 percent since 1999?
> ... the music market in the United States has lost
> more than 12 percent of its value since 1999 ...

Only 12%? So why do they claim they lost it to file sharing? In those years new ways to spend time were created, and the public learned to use them. Peple spend a lot of time on the web, and that's enough to explain spending a bit less on music. After all, if you spend less time listening to music (because you're doing something else, or consumuing some other kind of entertainment) then you also buy less music.

I know file sharing has nothing to do with my buying less music than 20 years ago. I didn't do much downloading of music from P2P networks, but when I did a few years ago, it was a project of recreating an old cassete with songs from the seventies, and I ended up buying several CDs just for the one or two tracks on them that I couldn't find online. Most of what I ever downloaded was stuff I already had on analog media that I couldn't listen to because I had no working hardware for them (i.e., my two turntables need fixing!)

The main reason I don't buy as much as in the vynil days is that I am disillusioned from the dream of forming my own media library: there's no point in collecting music if eventually the formats change and you end up with a worthless collection that cost you a little fortune... They should expect to lose much more than 12% in the future if they plan on using DRM to force people to repurchase their libraries whenever they get a new player. Those things might be cool today, but people would be disillusioned after they find they have to repurchase their collections.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
music market lost only 12 percent since 1999?
> ... the music market in the United States has lost
> more than 12 percent of its value since 1999 ...

Only 12%? So why do they claim they lost it to file sharing? In those years new ways to spend time were created, and the public learned to use them. Peple spend a lot of time on the web, and that's enough to explain spending a bit less on music. After all, if you spend less time listening to music (because you're doing something else, or consumuing some other kind of entertainment) then you also buy less music.

I know file sharing has nothing to do with my buying less music than 20 years ago. I didn't do much downloading of music from P2P networks, but when I did a few years ago, it was a project of recreating an old cassete with songs from the seventies, and I ended up buying several CDs just for the one or two tracks on them that I couldn't find online. Most of what I ever downloaded was stuff I already had on analog media that I couldn't listen to because I had no working hardware for them (i.e., my two turntables need fixing!)

The main reason I don't buy as much as in the vynil days is that I am disillusioned from the dream of forming my own media library: there's no point in collecting music if eventually the formats change and you end up with a worthless collection that cost you a little fortune... They should expect to lose much more than 12% in the future if they plan on using DRM to force people to repurchase their libraries whenever they get a new player. Those things might be cool today, but people would be disillusioned after they find they have to repurchase their collections.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What if...
Grokster looses. I think if software companies are held accountable of the actions of their users then think of the impact it will have on every company. I not a lawyer, but I can see lawsuits fly at software company that has a flaw in their software. Microsoft will get sued everytime a virus hits Windows. Linux will be the same way. Macromedia and Adobe will be sued because their program crashes and looses what you have been working on.

I may be hittin the extreme here, but can you imagine what life will be like when only companies like Microsoft can afford to make software. Even then how long could Microsoft survive when they are getting sued for every bug in their OS or other Application. Even if you don't like Microsoft and think this would be funny to watch happen to them, remember it will effect more than just them.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perhaps Open Source
Perhaps this will push open source, get it for free and no warrantee software will become more viable. Most file sharing networks are run through open source means. It is only the blockhead business personnel who start such companies to make money on the software that are targeted.

I'm sure the international media corporations will start sueing individuals or dair I say countries for using an infrastructure they can not control.

This just means that more an more software will be developed open source. Or will it? I'm sure more an more corporations will get software patents that would invalidate the ability to make software. I'm sorry but we (major corporation with 100,000 software patents) is going to sue you into the group small software developer. Because you are using our patented "for loop" and our patented "XML schema".

This is just plain stupidity and will put a strangle hold of humanity for the gains a the few trillion dollar corporations.

This must be stopped! Before such a think can happen human being have to learn to not be so greedy. Sadly, I am not sure this will ever happen, not in the good ole USA.

Sighs.
Posted by zeroplane (286 comments )
Link Flag
What if...
Grokster looses. I think if software companies are held accountable of the actions of their users then think of the impact it will have on every company. I not a lawyer, but I can see lawsuits fly at software company that has a flaw in their software. Microsoft will get sued everytime a virus hits Windows. Linux will be the same way. Macromedia and Adobe will be sued because their program crashes and looses what you have been working on.

I may be hittin the extreme here, but can you imagine what life will be like when only companies like Microsoft can afford to make software. Even then how long could Microsoft survive when they are getting sued for every bug in their OS or other Application. Even if you don't like Microsoft and think this would be funny to watch happen to them, remember it will effect more than just them.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perhaps Open Source
Perhaps this will push open source, get it for free and no warrantee software will become more viable. Most file sharing networks are run through open source means. It is only the blockhead business personnel who start such companies to make money on the software that are targeted.

I'm sure the international media corporations will start sueing individuals or dair I say countries for using an infrastructure they can not control.

This just means that more an more software will be developed open source. Or will it? I'm sure more an more corporations will get software patents that would invalidate the ability to make software. I'm sorry but we (major corporation with 100,000 software patents) is going to sue you into the group small software developer. Because you are using our patented "for loop" and our patented "XML schema".

This is just plain stupidity and will put a strangle hold of humanity for the gains a the few trillion dollar corporations.

This must be stopped! Before such a think can happen human being have to learn to not be so greedy. Sadly, I am not sure this will ever happen, not in the good ole USA.

Sighs.
Posted by zeroplane (286 comments )
Link Flag
Open Source - Kill an Industry
Plain and simple. The problem is that Hollywood and the RIAA have business models that are based on obsolete methods of distribution. If they force this down our throats, then technology will be forced to go completely open source, killing both industries while trying to protect a dinosaur.

I buy less music today from the major labels not because of P2P, but because the music sucks. Radio sucks. Bring back more variety and choice in music and films, and maybe we'll return.

Kill P2P, and you won't get a dime of my business ever again.
Posted by (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Open Source - Kill an Industry
Plain and simple. The problem is that Hollywood and the RIAA have business models that are based on obsolete methods of distribution. If they force this down our throats, then technology will be forced to go completely open source, killing both industries while trying to protect a dinosaur.

I buy less music today from the major labels not because of P2P, but because the music sucks. Radio sucks. Bring back more variety and choice in music and films, and maybe we'll return.

Kill P2P, and you won't get a dime of my business ever again.
Posted by (274 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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