Friday, March 25, 2005

Grokster madness

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, 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.


Blogger Bob said...

good links molly! seriously, what the hell is the christian coalition doing filing a brief in this case? their argument based on p2p encouraging the proliferation of kiddie porn is completely ludicrous. i also liked how napster (which is now aol, something i think most people know by now) is lumped in there as supporting the plaintiffs when shawn fanning, the inventor of napster, the original p2p app (and still the best one ever made, those were the days huh?) has taken a very public stance against the plaintiffs. what a bunch of a-holes. i suppose it's good strategy on the lawyers part, but hopefully, they'll be able to see through at least that ruse.

it's also interesting to see intel, a big money corporation that supports grokster.

lastly, i think that the computer profs brief is most convincing when it says that the internet, is basically a peer to peer network and that ruling against grokster would effectively make the internet illegal.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Molly Moloney said...

Oh, absolutely. There's no way to eliminate p2p without eliminating what makes the internet the internet.

I wish I had a better sense as to how this is really going to turn out and how much of the 1984 Betamax ruling will stand in the end, but I think it's really hard to say.

5:51 PM  
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