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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Grokster: A CTO's Thoughts

Hector Santos, CTO of Santronics Software, Inc., emails his thoughts on yesterday's Grokster decision:

Being one of the original Online File Sharing Hosting systems with our Wildcat! BBS system since the early 80s, this decision was the right and common sense decision. Status quo remains.

We are responsible for uploaded copyrighted material. Its been that way since day one and we should be liable for intentional distribution of unauthorized copyrighted material. Operators need to pay attention to what is uploaded.

Yet, the technology should not be deemed illegal. Its been in place since the first days when you were able to dial up a BBS and unload and download files.

The judgment was the right common sense decision.

Now, probably, if anything, how I can see it effect us, is that we might be more keen on the business model. For example, our software allows operations to setup a membership subscription service. The operator can setup his accounting to provide credit for uploading, and a debit for downloading. But this accounting is based on the "Membership" to the service in general. Not necessarily based on just files sharing.

So what I see possibly happening is a new FILE DESCRIPTION (DES) standard that includes cost and vendor contact concepts. This was actually invented back in the late 80s but it never caught on and by that I mean, the file may include this DES file, but it may not be supported or read by the online or file sharing service.


Hector Santos, CTO Santronics Software, Inc.

I'm not familiar with the technical details regarding Santronics, but it sounds to me like it might fall within the realm of ISP liability limitations — though presumably even an ISP would not be immune from liability under the Grokster inducement/intent analysis if the indicators were present.

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