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February 2, 2005

Mark Cuban on MGM v. Grokster [6:00 pm]

Grokster and America’s future

This [personal computing] technology revolution has been amazing for two reasons. First, the technology has continued to evolve this long. We may be at a point where we aren’t surprised to read about new technologies, but entrepreneurs continue to generate ideas that lead to new products and services. Technology continues to have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and to create jobs.

Second, the government managed to stay out of the way for as long as it did. Who knows why, but our elected officials managed to let the free markets stay free.

Until now.

[...] The law of unintended consequences is never repealed. It goes on forever. Next month, a case entitled MGM v. Grokster will go before the U.S. Supreme Court. If this case goes the wrong way, that law of unintended consequences could put a hurt on us in the future.

[...] In reality, this case isn’t about whether music or movies are illegally downloaded using P2P software. This is purely about control. The entertainment industry wants control over technology that could impact its business.

[...] In the MGM v. Grokster case, the fewer than 50 companies who control less than 1 percent of all digital information are trying to take control of innovation in the technology industry and pry it away from the rest of us. Everything our imagination creates and touches that can be made digital is at risk if Grokster loses.

What innovations will be condemned by law before they have a chance to come to market, because they could have an impact on Hollywood and the music industry? We have no idea, and that is a very scary prospect.

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Software Patent Discussion [8:53 am]

Open-source honchos trash software patents

If you could not patent software algorithms or ideas, how much of the money spent on writing software would go away? How much innovation would disappear? How much investment in that innovation would disappear? I don’t think any would disappear,” [Apache's Brian] Behlendorf said.

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Aaron McGruder on Changes at the FCC (updated, again) [7:21 am]

Too funny:

2005 Feb 02 Boondocks cartoon

Later: See this Frank Rich discussion of Michael Powell’s legacy on the anniversary of the “wardrobe malfunction” - The Year of Living Indecently

That our government is now both intimidating PBS and awarding public money to pundits to enforce “moral values” agendas demonizing certain families is the ugliest fallout of the campaign against indecency. That campaign cannot really banish salaciousness from pop culture, a rank impossibility in a market economy where red and blue customers are united in their infatuation with “Desperate Housewives.” But it can create public policy that discriminates against anyone on the hit list of moral values zealots. Inane as it may seem that Ms. Spellings is conducting a witch hunt against Buster or that James Dobson has taken aim at SpongeBob SquarePants, there’s a method to their seeming idiocy: the cartoon surrogates are deliberately chosen to camouflage the harshness of their assault on nonanimated, flesh-and-blood people.

Later - Mickey Kaus at Slate generates a bit of revisionist history of his own

A Super Sunday reminder to Frank Rich and other righteous anti-FCCers: The big problem with last year’s Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake halftime show was not that people saw Jackson’s breast. It wasn’t what Jackson did that was offensive. It was what Timberlake did. Here was a massively popular, relatively hip singer whose message was that it was a hip, transgressive thing for men to rip clothes off women when they feel like it (which is quite often). I watched the game with a group of non-evangelical, non-moralistic dads who were uniformly horrified. The problem for them wasn’t sex–their kids see flesh all the time in videos–but a form of sexism, not prudery but piggishness. Surely there are some types of behavior–homophobia, perhaps, or racism, or Republicanism–that even Frank Rich wouldn’t want implicitly endorsed during a telecast watched by most of the country’s teens and pre-teens. Yet the press has effectively recast this complicated issue as an uncomplicated case of “Nipple-gate,” of blue-noses overreacting to the sight of a breast. No wonder red staters respond negatively when New Yorkers call them simplistic.

While I might be able to agree with Kaus’ argument about what was offensive, the fine was not, as I recall, about Timberlake. Something to research to confirm, though. Hmmm — all I can find is a discussion about the “exposure” of Miss Jackson’s breast, nothing about “ripping clothes off” or related issues of “piggishness.”

Ernest’s take: t’s Not the Offensiveness, Stupid

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