Monday, August 02, 2004

Boston Globe Editorial on P2P, Copyright,

This Boston Globe Editorial: "Copyright overreach" from yesterday takes on the Kazaa/Grokster appeal and the Hatch-Lehy-sponsored Induce Act as its topic. As the title suggests, the editorial is concerned that proposed legislation, which would be needed should the appellate case be decided in favor of Kazaa and Grokster, would stifle innovation . We've heard this argument from Lessig and others countless times: with regard to the Copyright Term Extension Act, with regard to the DMCA, and certainly with regard to the P2P debates. What I find interesting in this editorial is in the following paragraphs - I'm throwing them out here because maybe I'm misinterpreting, but the argument just doesn't deem to make a whole lot of sense to me.

"The impetus for this bill is a decision by US District Judge Stephen Wilson in California last year. Relying on the Betamax case, he ruled that the file-sharing services Kazaa and Grokster could not be held liable for copyright violations because their services could be used for legal purposes as well. Movie and record companies have appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which has upheld another judge's decision against Napster, the first successful file-sharing service. Consideration of the Hatch bill would be premature until the court acts on the Grokster-Kazaa case.

Wilson also ruled in favor of Kazaa because the technology is looser than Napster's, which relied on centralized computers to shift a user's request for a particular song, almost always under copyright. The intent of Kazaa and Grokster is the same as Napster: to make money through the facilitation of illegal file-sharing. The appeals court ought to rule in favor of the plaintiffs.

If the court does not, legislation will be in order to target companies like Kazaa, whose chief reason for existence is to facilitate copyright violations. It should explicitly uphold the Betamax decision. "

Ok, so - the court ought to explicitly uphold the Betamax decision, which means that the technoloigy itself can't be condemned because there are legit noninfringing uses, BUT the court should also find for the plaintiffs because of the "intent" of making money off of infringing behavior. Huh? So, the companies are ok in that their technologies do have legitimate uses, but totally guilty because it is not their intent to use said technologies for legitimate purposes? I see a contradiction here, don't you all? And I think the opinion that the appeals court ought to decide this case based not upon legal precedent (Betamax), but upon the supposed results and outcomes (consideration of the Induce Act) of the decision to be, well, scary.

- posted by laurie @ 8/02/2004 11:14:00 AM
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