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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.

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Copyfight

« Welcome, Blawgers | Main | Supreme Court Worried About "the Guy in the Garage" »

March 29, 2005

MGM v. Grokster: The Showdown

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betamax_cartoon.jpg
Today the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the most important technology and copyright case in two decades. At stake is the future of a legal doctrine that has protected innovators of all stripes since the Court's landmark decision in Universal v. Sony 21 years ago: if your technology is "merely capable" of significant legal uses, you cannot be held responsible for the copyright violations of users.

In this case, the Court will determine whether the makers of the Morpheus, Grokster, and KaZaA software products are protected by the Betamax doctrine -- and, potentially, whether a new test is needed. Will technological innovation dodge another bullet? Or do we face a future where innovators will be forced to beg permission from Hollywood and the recording industry before creating new copying technologies?

My EFF colleagues will be calling in from the courthouse steps immediately after the hearing, and we'll be posting our impressions at EFF's Deep Links weblog; I'll also be cross-posting here @ Copyfight. Stay tuned.

Update: Cory has lots of pointers to Grokster live-blogging, including photos of the brave people who camped out on the courthouse steps last night.

Update #2: Alex Halderman has joined Ed Felten @ Freedom to Tinker and may soon be live-blogging Grokster from there.

Update #3: SCOTUS blog has the first report: "The Supreme Court put on public display Tuesday two conflicting reactions to the apparently widespread practice of downloading copyrighted songs and movies from the Internet: a concern that software makers may be too enthusiastically encouraging the habit, and a concern that copyright law not be made so restrictive that it stifles new surges of technology creativity."

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Laws and Regulations


COMMENTS

1. Taylor on March 29, 2005 11:36 AM writes...

This is not a communist country... I feel we shouldn't be coerced into sharing what we've produced. America is about property rights, pure and simple.

http://freshpolitics.us/?p=252

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2. lbmouse on March 29, 2005 2:20 PM writes...

Taylor: you are correct, the US is not a communist country. People should be free to invent new technologies w/o the fear that they are breaking the law. P2P programs have many excellent legal uses (take a look at bittorrent). Just because a program *might* be used to do something illegal, should it be banned? Almost anything can be used in an illegal way. A copy machine can be used to copy a book, is that next? It is not the technology that is infringing on the copyright holders' work, it is the people mis-using it.

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3. steve sherman on March 29, 2005 5:41 PM writes...

Universal v. Sony 21 years ago: Betamax doctrine -- yes, how times have changed, if the current Sony existed 21 years ago, the Betamax would NEVER have been invented otherwise their movie group could have thrown a fit... then it would have been Sony v. Sony at the Supreme court 21 years ago....

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