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August 20, 2004

Today’s Grokster Coverage [8:51 am]

  • NYTimes - File-Sharing Sites Found Not Liable for Infringement

    Jonathan Zittrain, an expert in Internet law at Harvard Law School, said the court’s ruling might compel copyright holders to focus more energy on lobbying legislators to change the law. The copyright holders, Mr. Zittrain said, “may be reaching the limit of what the federal judiciary is prepared to do to help them in their cause.”

  • BBC News - File-sharing systems in legal win

    The decision means that instead of suing the creators and operators of file-sharing networks for copyright infringements, record labels and movie makers will have to take the more cumbersome route of finding and suing individual file swappers.

  • Tim Wu @ Lessig Blog: Cert.?

    So the question on Grokster-watchers’ minds: Cert? (For non-lawyers: will the Supreme Court hear this case?)

    My guess is yes, for 7 reasons, ranging from the more to less legal

  • LATimes: Legal Victory for File Sharing [pdf]

    RIAA Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol vowed to press the industry’s case against piracy in Congress. “This decision does nothing to absolve these businesses from their responsibility as corporate citizens to address the rampant illegal use of their networks,” Bainwol said.

    Key to that effort is the so-called Induce Act, which would make it a federal crime to induce people to violate copyrights. The bill, which was sponsored by leading senators from both parties, is awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    Adam Eisgrau of P2P United, a lobbying group for file-sharing companies, cautioned legislators to proceed carefully or risk stifling the sort of experimentation that leads to technological breakthroughs.

    “This was a court that wants to send, and has sent, a very clear signal that making copyright law an instrument of powerful parochial concerns can have hugely negative consequences for the consumer and, very importantly, for the American economy that the entertainment industries try to make synonymous with their own deep-pocketed well-being,” Eisgrau said.

  • Ernest points to Bill Thompson’s Fight for the right to copy at the BBC

    It is not just an abstract discussion either. The arguments over copyright are the first skirmishes in a serious battle over the shape of our digital world.

    If the big rights holders have their way then copyright will become a real property right, like the rights I have over the laptop I am writing this on.

    You cannot make me lend it to you. It is mine forever unless I sell it or give it away, and if you take it from me without asking, then that is theft and you could go to jail.

    Intellectual property is not like that. It was never supposed to be like that. Copyright is a time-limited monopoly on certain forms of use of a book or recording, and was not to be treated in the same way as ownership of a house or car or pair of shoes.

    But persuading the record companies that they cannot expect to exert complete control over every recording, forever, is not proving easy to do.

    Perhaps they will be persuaded if we refuse to give them our money.

    [...] I will not buy music online because I do not want to support a system that is trying to lock down our creative heritage, stifle innovation and claim ownership of our common culture.

    The Grokster decision has given me hope that the law around copyright is still understood by the judges.

    We need to make sure that this does not change, and we also need to make sure that lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic realise that they cannot give the big rights holders everything they want.

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A Reminder That I Owe A Book Review [8:45 am]

Worth reading as an illustration of what Siva’s book has to say about arnarchism as a movement and its relationship to current trends today, particularly online: Anarchists Emerge as the Convention’s Wild Card

Part of the difficulty in discerning which ideas floated for disruptions are real and which are not is that the anarchists, a subculture that includes young people disaffected with political parties and graying adherents to a political philosophy at least a century old, are far from a monolithic group. They pride themselves on organizing in collectives and “affinity groups” that operate autonomously and make decisions by consensus, eschewing hierarchy or any whiff of commands from on high.

[...] Definitions vary but most see anti-capitalism as the bedrock of their ideology. They question and disdain authority and hierarchal government as corrupting and intrusive in personal affairs. “Neither slave nor master” is a common slogan.

Some are zealots; others see anarchism as a way to raise awareness of problems like hunger, greed and materialism.

Sound familiar?

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Evolution of [Audible/Downloads] [8:34 am]

An interview with CEO Katz: An ear for downloads

Q: You’ve expanded the range of what Audible does this year with the free downloads, starting with the 9/11 testimony. What was your thinking behind offering those?

A: What we basically realized when Richard Clarke did his 9/11 testimony was that if our mission is in fact to provide consumers with the most compelling, the most informative audio…then this was something that was particularly dramatic and historically important, to say nothing of creatively evocative. It was the kind of thing that was clearly much too long for a radio station to play. And it seemed like this was the kind of audio Americans should be going home from work listening to on their iPods. We decided to put it up simply as part of our service to the community and our mission.

[...] And did those people stick around and buy paid Audible content?

It was business-efficient in the sense that people were learning about Audible and grateful for us culling this material. We went on to offer the Reagan funeral orations, the Democratic convention speeches, and people really appreciated all of it and stuck with us.

To me, it’s an inflection point for the Internet and Audible. Two years ago, we could not give away anything for free. The whole ethic of the Web was that everything should be free, and Audible was always dedicated to the kind of content that people habitually pay for–books, magazines, business information. We always worried that once we gave away audio for free, it was much harder to ever convince someone the other stuff was worth paying for. That’s no longer the case now that the Web has matured and there’s a pretty clear separation of premium content.

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