Tuesday, June 28, 2005

More on the Grokster Decision

Yeah, as you might have guessed, I've been thinking more about the Grokster decision. I'm about halfway through reading the Supreme Court decision itself, and I've been poking around on a number of blogs.

I continue to find this whole part of law fascinating. The SC didn't (and for the most part, doesn't) say "yes" or "no" to an entire issue. Instead, it issues opinions, literally, on how the law should be viewed, and in many cases (including this one) on rather fine points in the law. A few articles I've seen start off with something like "P2P on the ropes" or somesuch. Nothing of the sort happened yesterday, and in fact it seems like the SC was very careful not to say anything about the legality or propriety of any specific technology.

Grokster (and co-defendant StreamCast) were pretty obviously "bad actors", i.e. entities doing clearly improper things. As a result, any decision that brings them to task for their actions is a good one, and this decision did so. But more importantly, it seemed to do so in a way that tried to limit the fallout to other bad actors. Opinions range on how successful the justices were in that effort, but regardless, they aimed their decision at entities that actively promote the infringing uses of their product.

Probably the best article on the whole thing is this one by Ernest Miller, especially the final section. He explains the decision quite well, and states quite compellingly toward the end that P2P, (and by extension, IMO, freedom on the Internet), is and will remain a reality that the old guard will be required to adapt themselves to, rather than being something that they can prevent in the interest of protecting their existing business model.

The bottom line to me is that the decision was good, and that the future is as bright as it ever was.

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