In their questions, the justices were critical of the entertainment industry’s proposal, which would hold companies “predominantly” supported by piracy liable for copyright infringement. However, they showed little sympathy for the file-swapping companies’ business model.
“What you are suggesting is unlawful expropriation of property as a kind of start-up capital,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. “From an economic standpoint and legal standpoint, that sounds wrong.”
Also: learn about what it is to wait in line to get into a hot Supreme Court session from these links at BoingBoing
Justice Stephen G. Breyer said the same software that can be used to steal copyrighted materials offered at least conceptually “some really excellent uses” that are legal.
Justice Antonin Scalia maintained that a ruling for entertainment companies could mean that if “I’m a new inventor, I’m going to get sued right away.”
While seeming leery of allowing lawsuits, the court also appeared deeply troubled by efforts of the companies that manufacture so-called file-sharing software to encourage Internet piracy and profit from it.
Slashdot: Supreme Court Takes Hard Look at P2P
Missed the (wholly unbiased <G>) LATimes editorial this morning: California’s Civil War
None of this is to say that peer-to-peer systems like Grokster and Morpheus aren’t allowing consumers to shoplift digitally, victimizing creative artists and their corporate distributors. But there are plenty of non- infringing uses for file-sharing systems, and the justices today will probably quibble about how much legitimate copying is enough to save the likes of Grokster.
Wired News’ File Sharing Has Supreme Moment