Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The real issue in the lawsuit, for those who care about innovation, was not whether Grokster was run by a bunch of angels, nor even whether the company should be allowed to continue its business. The real question was, Who gets to decide whether the file-sharing technology it promoted should make Grokster liable for copyright infringement - Congress or the courts? If the answer is Congress, then innovators at least know their enemy. Wars about liability get voted on; any resulting liability is usually prospective. But if the answer is the courts, then innovators are forever at the mercy of enterprising lawyers. It takes nothing to ensnarl a startup in death-inducing legal bills, at least when the legal standard is uncertain.
Bonus link: Warner Music Group's Edgar Bronfman, Jr., as reported by CNN, on his company's new, online "elabel:" "We usually associate innovation with technology companies, but they aren't the only ones who must innovate. To survive and prosper, content companies must do so as well. And even our very concept of copyright must innovate."
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