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December 12, 2004
The Cure for Infringement
Kill the Internet as we know it.
Reshape the network so that ISPs or other traffic routers could have certain controls that would discriminate between types of traffic. Monitor all the traffic and restrict anonymous communications so that we can track the source of distributed content.
That's the Swiftian solution proposed by Derek Slater in a post echoing and amplifying the point Fred von Lohmann is making repeatedly to the press folk covering MGM v. Grokster: This case isn't about the future of peer-to-peer technology. It's about all the other technologies that will be impacted by the effort to control it:
Making "P2P networks...illegal" involves more than flipping a switch and banning P2P networks narrowly. As Ed Felten explains, crafting a definition that includes P2P and leaves out most other Internet technologies is basically impossible.
A result against Grokster would thus affect myriad other technologies. But would it affect P2P? Not really. As the Darknet authors conclude, "the darknet-genie will not be put back in the bottle." [...]
Which is not to say that there would be no way to eliminate P2P. Let's not rehash the old "can we regulate the Internet" argument - sure we can.
No matter how the Supreme Court rules, P2P file-sharing software will continue to be available from distributors around the world, many of whom are beyond the reach of US laws. But the Court's ruling will shape the future of companies like Apple and products like the iPod and TiVo -- that is, any company that makes/wants to make/would have made a technology that enables infringement.
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