Titans clash this week. Hollywood squares off against the Tech industry. The Entertainment industry heads to the Supreme Court, where they'll try for a third time to bend the US legal system to their will and reverse two California court decisions that protect makers of file-sharing software.
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They want the courts to outlaw Grokster, and similar peer-to-peer file-sharing software, which make it easy to share files over the Internet. Sony, in particular, finds itself in an interesting position, with one foot in each world, since they manufacturer & market both technology & entertainment.
In fact, it's Sony's landmark Betamax case (1984) that sets legal precedent for tomorrow's case. Twenty years ago, the courts declared Sony not liable if people use their product to copy (copyrighted) movies from television.
[Betamax was quickly superseded by VHS, which is now yielding to the increasingly popular DVD format. Unlike VHS & Betamax, which are both analog formats, DVD is digital, which makes it easy to send over the Internet, and it suffers no generational loss during the copying process, as do analog formats.]
Feels like a heavyweight championship fight, in Madison Square Garden. MGM vs Grokster. Always entertaining to see the behemoths go toe to toe, especially now that Mark Cuban is going to fund the Grokster case.
Reuters calls it "one of the most important copyright cases in history," and paints a more Biblical scenario: David (little ol' Grokster) vs sue-happy Goliath (28 of the biggest companies from the Entertainment industry). I see it as the Geeks vs the movie stars.
PCWorld says, "nothing less than the future of technological innovation is at stake." The Electronic Frontier Foundation discusses the issues here. San Francisco Chronicle did a nice write-up here. Boston Phoenix editorial: Grok This is the best piece I've read. Editor of P2Pnet, Jon Newton, discusses the Crux of the Issue: "maybe consumers think many of their products just aren't worth paying for".
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