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Friday, August 20, 2004

Grokking Grokster

Want to really get a blawger on a roll? Writing a headline or story that superficially, inaccurately, or sensationalistically looks at a legal decision will do it every time. C.E. Petit explains why much of the news coverage of yesterday's decision in the Grokster case fails to tell the whole story:

So, then, where does this leave us? It does not, contrary to headlines that I have already seen, mean that "file-sharing software is legal." It means that the plaintiff record companies didn't (not necessarily couldn't?just didn't) establish intent in the same way as was done in Napster. It also creates an extremely fine line between providing a tool used to infringe, which is subject to apparently more-searching analysis, and providing a forum used to infringe, as the record indicates Napster and AOL did, or at least did enough to require a jury to make a definitive determination.
Judge Thomas's emphasis on "market forces" at the end of his opinion points out the real solution to piracy: Making piracy economically unattractive by providing high-quality, easily accessible intangibles at a price that makes the perceived cost and inconvenience associated with downloading, storing, proofing, etc. "too much" for the potential audience. In other words, don't repeat the mistakes of Prohibition and the "War on Drugs": go after the demand side, not the supply.

Read the whole thing. Then read why he thinks rumors of a Circuit split are greatly exaggerated. Writing (or opposing) the petition for certiorari? I hope you're reading C.E.'s blawg.

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