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October 12, 2004
FvL on Grokster Cert Petition
As I noted on The Importance Of..., the MPAA and RIAA have filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with regard to the MGM v. Grokster decision (MPAA/RIAA Files Petition for Cert in Grokster Case). Over on Deeplinks, Fred von Lohmann explains some of the reasons why granting cert would not be a good idea (Big Media Attacks Betamax in Court):
Often described as the Magna Carta of the technology industry, the Betamax doctrine makes it clear that innovators need not fear ruinous litigation from the entertainment industry so long as their inventions are "merely capable of substantial noninfringing uses." In today's petition, the entertainment industry urges the Court to reverse that established rule and impose on innovators a "legal duty either to have designed their services differently to prevent infringing uses, or to take reasonable steps going forward to do so." Of course, on that view, Sony's Betamax VCR would never have seen the light of day, since Sony could have designed it differently (in fact, the movie studios suggested back in 1978 that Sony implement a "broadcast flag" system!) or modified it after Disney complained.
I certainly hope that the Supreme Court recognizes that courts aren't the best place to decide what innovation is permissible and what innovation is not and declines the cert petition.
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