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March 29, 2005
NYT on the Grokster Oral Arguments
Linda Greenhouse files her report for the NYT, and again we hear the Court's concern for the future innovator -- or as we've come to know him, the "guy in the garage":
Justice David H. Souter asked Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., the lawyer arguing for the Hollywood studios and the recording industry, to envision "a guy sitting in his garage inventing the iPod."
"I know perfectly well that I can buy a CD and put it on my iPod," Justice Souter said. "But I also know if I can get music without buying it, I'm going to do so." Since that possibility was so obvious, he continued: "How do we give the developer the confidence to go ahead? On your theory, why isn't a foregone conclusion from the outset that the iPod inventor is going to lose his shirt?"
That David Souter, the least technically minded of the justices, who still drafts his opinions by hand on a legal pad, could even invite a dialogue about iPods, much less suggest that he could be tempted to engage in illegal file sharing, was an indication of how this confrontation of powerful interests had engaged the court.
But by the end of the lively argument, any prediction about what the court will actually decide appeared perilous.
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