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August 19, 2004

FILE-SHARING UPDATE: Big Win for Grokster in the 9th Circuit.

UPDATE: You know, this is sort of off-topic -- but if I were running things for the Bush Administration, I would have filed an amicus brief on behalf of Grokster. Just look at the lineup of parties here.

And for that matter, I'd have taken a strong position in favor of file-sharing, with an appropriate slogan ("Keep your grubby laws off my computer!"). Instead of Orrin Hatch's dumb INDUCE Act, I'd be supporting user-friendly legislation, short copyright times on motion pictures (10 years? Do I hear 5?), a ban on DVD encryption (or at least an end to DMCA penalties for cracking it) and all sorts of other consumer-friendly measures where digital media are concerned.

Now I support a lot of these measures (not actually the short copyrights) anyway. But here are the advantages for the Bushies:

1. It's cool. Right now, being pro-Bush isn't cool in many sectors. If they'd started this move a couple of years ago, it would have helped a lot.

2. It hurts an industry that hates them and gives a lot of money to the Democrats. And doing that is cost-free to the Republicans.

3. Because it hurts that industry, it would make the anti-Bush stuff from stars and celebrities look self-serving, and let the Administration dismiss it all as the economic self-interest of rich people trying to hold down the little guy.

Why didn't they do this? Beats me. It's not like I haven't pointed this out before. (More than once!) The only explanation I can come up with is that to the Republicans, even a big business that hates them is still a big business worth defending. That's a big mistake, and they're paying for it now, I think.

ANOTHER UPDATE: By the way, you should also read this excellent takedown of the music industry by Ken Layne from a couple of years ago:

What happens when an industry mistreats its customers and its suppliers? When 8,999 of 9,000 audits show shoddy accounting practices? When a core business is bungled and the marketplace shrugs and moves on? When scandals and greed lead to massive layoffs and massive disgust?

I'm not talking about Enron. I'm talking about the record industry.

He doesn't mention the political opportunity for the Republicans, but they sure would have had a lot to work with, based on this piece.