Once again, I didn't know whether to laugh or grimace when I read this in this Mediapost article that Fox-- one of the plaintiffs suing Grokster in the upcoming and very important MGM vs. Grokster case-- is apparently using the service for advertising. One of the key issues in this case, which could significantly transform the relationship between content ownership, copyright, and innovation in light of the old Sony/Betamax case, is whether or not there are substantial non-infringing uses for a technology. The studios say that's not a factor with Grokster, but this (among many other examples) seems to show something quite to the contrary:
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORP., currently suing Grokster and Morpheus for alleged copyright violations enabled by their peer-to-peer technology, apparently advertises through software bundled with Grokster, according to adware researcher Eric Howes. Howes reported Thursday afternoon that he was served a full-screen trailer for the DVD of the 20th Century Fox movie "Fat Albert," after downloading all of the software bundled with Grokster--eight separate adware programs.There are just a few short days before this goes to the Supreme Court and its hard to keep up with all of the buzz in the blogosphere and other media. Tech Law Advisor's Induce Act blog has been aggregating some of the coverage, here. If you want to get up to speed on this issue quickly, taking a look over there might be a good place to start.
It's been interesting to see how different groups have come down on this issue (to cast it simply as Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley is to gravely oversimplify the matter, but it's intriguing on this front, among others.) EFF has links to all of the briefs filed in the case. For example, 22 media scholars, many of them rather prominent filed this brief (pdf) in support of Grokster et al
Anyway, it's hard to overstate the potential importance of this case for copyright and copyfight issues, for media control and media democracy, for fair use and beyond.
UPDATE: Illustrating nicely a non-infringing use of P2P technology, outragedmoderates.org have posted this BitTorrent link to all of the briefs filed in the case. (via Lessig Blog)
UPDATE 2: IPTAblog has a really great round-up of the MGM vs. Grokster coverage in the immediate days before the Supreme Court case.