Monday, June 27, 2005

Never Dare Worse

First there was the Kelo decision. And now there's another in which the Supremes seem to be smoking the wacky-tobaccy: MGM vs. Grokster, in which the Supreme Court ruled that file sharing companies *can* be sued for enabling copyright infringement.

That's like saying Xerox can be sued because people photocopy books.

It's been a long time since I got this fired up about Supreme Court decisions. This term seems to be especially bad, though; let's hope it's just an aberration. Over at Tech Central Station is an article called Can A People Have Too Much Respect For The Law? It's an interesting article.


Anonymous said...

Hello, Mr. Miller. You seem to be jumping too quickly at this being so unjust. I think that it is wrong for Grokster to be stopped because their software can be used in illegal ways, because almost anything can be used in illegal ways, but that is not what the Supreme Court ruled.

The ruling was that Grokster advertised and marketed its P2P network as something intended for an illegal purpose of sharing copyrighted material. Under the Betamax ruling a product that circumvents copyright protection as long as it has a legal use is legal. A bong is legal, my radio station KWOD 106.5 pathetically used to have commercials for "Smoke Shops" selling "Vaporizers" but they always said for tobacco.

The problem is Grokster in the marketing department actually sent out memos saying market for people who used the now illegal Napster network. The Supreme Court is now saying this is illegal.

I don't know if I really agree and I don't know of any legal precedents to say it is, but that’s what they ruled. Don't think your copier next year will be gone, but do worry a little about the Supreme Court making up new laws on a whim. I need to read more of your posts and put on some comments, it’s been a long time.


Darren said...

See, folks? There *is* hope for the future! They don't all sit around listening to rap or headbanging music whilst playing Grand Theft Auto whilst under the influence of the good stuff get the idea.

I wonder, is marketing a car that goes 120 mph illegal? There's no state in the country with a 3-digit speed limit.

This ruling strikes me not only as unjust, but unwise.

Anonymous said...

I *knew* there was a reason I came to this site first after finishing my two-hour labor of love, replacing my loaded-to-the-gills-with-downloaded-(some legally, specifically jam bands/followers of the Grateful Dead who have endorsed people sharing copies of their live shows; some illegally despite the fact that I do believe piracy is stealing -- obviously I'm not above hypocrisy when music is a part of the question)-music-Ipod battery.

As for Grokster... meh. This is pretty blatantly just the RIAA/MPAA not knowing how to deal with the current environment and thrashing around in the dark trying to take out anyone within arm's reach rather than taking stock of the current environment and adjusting to fit the times.

Which is to say, currently the MPAA and the RIAA can win every battle but they're not going to win the war.

Darren said...

Technology created this problem, and technology should solve it. Just like when color copiers first came out, some dolts tried to copy their paper money. Hopefully they don't try *that* anymore!

Anonymous said...

Most car commercials have cars doing things that are illegal or extremely dangerious. This could get them sued, but they get away with it because little white letters always say, "Closed corse, Proffesional Driver, Do not attempt."

Another reason they can get away with that is because traffic laws don't apply to privately owned property, so if you have a race course in your backyard or go down to one of the tracks you can drive that Chrysler that's actually advertised in commerials to go 150 MPH full speed.

It's those little clauses and loopholes that save most companies, or at least the ones that the Supreme Court likes as it seems these days.

Anonymous said...

"Technology created this problem, and technology should solve it. Just like when color copiers first came out, some dolts tried to copy their paper money. Hopefully they don't try *that* anymore!"

I seriously doubt it's that simple.

First of all, there's the obvious issue of people respecting/fearing the US Government a whole lot more than the MPAA/RIAA.

(Oooh, you're really scary, what're you going to do, sue 15 people out of the 15 million who are ripping you off? Way to go, you impotent morons, way to go...


Then there's the fact that facilitating the spread of information/media is generally looked upon as a lot more noble and a lot less criminal than, say, trying to lie/cheat/steal by way of phoney money.

Basically, progress and a couple of natural human instincts are on "our" side, whereas the RIAA/MPAA have wads and wads of cash but seemingly not a lot of brains.

Anonymous said...

I just wrote this terribly long post on the unstoppable nature of the internet and just trashed it because no one wants to hear it, ha ha. Photocopier technology did not stop people from photo copying money; the US Mint did by keeping money harder to copy.

No photo copier recognizes money and then won't copy it; just like no data transfer system recognizes copyrighted music and doesn't send it. It should be the burden of the Music and Movie Industries to prevent copyright infringement, not the transfer protocol and hardware designers.

The sad part is they can never fix what they started, Pandora’s Box has been opened, but hey, companies like Sony own the music and the hardware/software that helps steal it, so I can't feel too sorry for them.

Hopefully all the parties including the industry, P2P networks, and the courts recognize the pointlessness of this all and stop wasting the tax payers money.


Anonymous said...

[Jerry Garcia]The world would be a much happier place if musicians just toured for a living (man).[/Jerry Garcia]

Darren said...

Two mistakes, Ronnie.

1. The US Mint is responsible for coins. The Bureau of Printing and Engraving is responsible for creating paper money.

2. Actually, there *are* personal copiers available that recognize money and print a solid black rectangle where the image of the money would be.

Other than those two minor points, I agree with you that "It should be the burden of the Music and Movie Industries to prevent copyright infringement, not the transfer protocol and hardware designers."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Miller, I actually knew the part about the US Mint not printing money, in fact I think you said something about it, but forgot what agency was responsible so just went with it.

That's interesting with the personal printers that won't print money. I never had heard of anything like that. I once used a scanner for a project to copy $1 bills to use to make a papier-mâché George Washington buff for a history project and I knew that worked, and I was relatively sure that a copier doesn't really know the difference between anything that you put in it.

I guess a sort of imagery recognition system could be implemented; though I am very surprised, since the paper is relatively impossible to match and the printing needs to be done with very specific ink, there isn't much need for that kind of protection. Do you remember what brand it was; I’m interested in what method it used to tell the difference. The copier is very intriguing. This has turned out to be a great post, very diverse in topics.


Darren said...

I don't remember which brand the copier was, but do remember it was one of the biggies--HP, Canon, Epson, one of those.

I'm sure the technology is similar to that employed by the machines at the drug store, Sam's Club, etc, that allow you to enlarge or copy your own photographs. Put in a picture from Olan Mills, though, and you get a message that says something like "This is a professional picture that cannot be copied due to copyright restrictions." Did you know that the rights to your professionally-done family portrait belong to the photographer and not to you?

Anyway, there's something that those machines detect that causes them not to reproduce professionally-done pictures. I'm sure the printer technology to prevent counterfeiting was along the same lines.