June 27, 2005

MIKE GODWIN has comments on the Grokster decision:

As a technical matter the content companies won MGM v. Grokster; the decision remands the case to a trial court for further factfinding as to whether defendants “induced” infringement. But it’s clear that they didn’t win anything like what they had been asking the Supremes for—a rule that would penalize any company that made money off a product widely used for infringement, regardless of what the company intended. And though the technical companies and consumer groups are troubled by the outcome in this case, there’s still much to encourage them.

Forget piracy. I think that Big Entertainment will try to use this to shut down anything that looks as if it might become an alternative distribution system. Meanwhile Chris Nolan observes: “If Hollywood’s lawsuits are persistent and ugly enough – if it keeps going after 20-year-olds – consumers could quickly and easily be brought to the tech community’s side. The iPod is a cherished device. So is TiVo. It’s not that hard to think of ways to use those innovations in smart consumer-oriented campaigns to change the law to protect inventors and innovators.”

Here’s the SlashDot discussion.

UPDATE: Ernest Miller has much more on Grokster.