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Grokster Defeat Reveals MPAA Attitude

by The DVD Insider July 20, 2005

The Grokster vs MGM decision shouldn't have come as a big surprise to anyone last month even though lots of us clutched that faint ray of hope the Sony VCR ruling would help shield the industry. The surprise was the nine-zip decision.

Granted, most of the sitting judges are older than dirt. But anyone in the industry has to admit we've been saying "no…no" with a smirk and a wink way too long.

Of course the decision means we're going to have to do without those great ads. You know - Apple's "Rip. Mix. Burn" and Microsoft's "Swap Pictures, Music, Video and More."

The MPAA was smart because they picked two targets they knew they could eventually defeat - Grokster and StreamCast. They weren't even subtle. They listed copyrighted music links and offered guidance. They weren't guilty they noted because they only listed the music…sure neither was the old Napster. The problem of trying to piggyback so much on the earlier Sony ruling is that the Justices gave some strong indication that "might be" convinced to overturn the ruling or modify it…significantly. If that happens we will be so S****ed!!!

Everyone knows that if you open the door even a crack to the barbarians they will gather in mass to clean you out of house and home. Lots of lawyers (see the parallel here?) saw the similarity for a lifetime of riches in the Grokster decision. They won't care what side of the aisle they are on because the written comments from the Justices left a lot of wiggle room and gray areas that are subject to interpretation. Depending upon the chair you sit in you could interpret "…promoting its use to infringe copyright…" any way you want.

If you want to imagine what all the government intervention could do to the professional and consumer video industry look at the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry…it's your benchmark. There are more lawyers than scientists and there is an ambulance chaser behind every tree. Still their liability insurance costs are out-of-sight!

But we don't agree with a lot of the doomsayers and lawyers who see themselves being paid to sit in on product development and marketing communications meetings. Stressing that you support copyright protection is easy to do. File transfer and swapping technology that emphasizes legal content sharing can be clearly and concisely stated. Policing your p2p sites for illegal copywriten postings isn't that difficult.

A professional approach and common logic don't need a review of ethics by a lawyer.


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