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Donna Wentworth
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Ernest Miller
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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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June 18, 2004

Hollywood Begging State AGs for Legal Help

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Posted by Ernest Miller

The RIAA and MPAA must be worried that they are going to lose the Grokster case (Group of attorneys general told they should be monitoring file-sharing):

Lobbyists for record companies and Hollywood movie studios laid out a case against online file-sharing before a group of attorneys general, suggesting the state prosecutors should examine whether such companies are breaking state laws....

One example, whether the distributors of file-sharing software like Kazaa, Grokster and Morpheus do enough to warn users that they could be liable for sharing copyright content....

[Fritz] Attaway [Executive VP and General Counsel for the MPAA] also suggested the state prosecutors might have a case for protecting businesses like movie theaters and video stores from P2P software companies under state unfair competition statues. P2P software providers divert customers, affect jobs, he added.

Why should the attorneys general be looking into this if the ongoing lawsuits (or the INDUCE Act) were going to work in shutting down these services? There is also a hint of desperation in these justifications for getting the AGs involved. Not that it seems they are biting (probably have better things to spend money on than subsidize Hollywood's lawsuit agenda). Undoubtedly, the RIAA and MPAA will also be ramping up their state legislatve agenda, pushing more state legislatures to introduce bills like California's "True Name and Address" Bill.

UPDATE 0745 PT Read on...

USA Today has more on the attempt to persuade state AGs (Attorneys general told by lobbyists to monitor file sharing).

"P2P networks pose tremendous piracy problems ... but they also pose very substantial threats to consumers," said Fritz Attaway, executive vice president and general counsel for the Washington-based Motion Picture Association of America.

Consumers? I thought when they started sharing files they stopped being consumers and became dirty rotten pirates who should be threatened with penury through lawsuits.

Speaking of the "True Name and Address" Bill. It has "received strong support from the Assembly Arts and Entertainment Committee as it approved the bill 12 – 0" (Assembly Approves Internet Piracy Bill). Lies Spin about the bill includes:

The measure will help consumers and law enforcement distinguish between legitimate works distributed on the Internet and pirated works.

Well, no. The requirement for a true name and address only applies to certain works. It doesn't apply to things like works in the public domain or under a creative commons license. Law enforcement will not be able to simply look at a transmitted work and know immediately whether it is legitimate or illegitimate.
This statute is a valuable tool for local and state law enforcement to go after piracy and has become the model statute for other states and other countries to combat piracy.

Hmmm ... federal copyright pre-emption anyone?
An added benefit of SB 1506 is the curbing of viruses disseminated via pirated files on file sharing networks.

And how will this mystical anti-virus protection work? Will virus writers now fear the long arm of California law if they fail to put their email address in the virus?

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