File Sharing Networks-Good or Evil?

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File Sharing (Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa, etc...) Good or Evil

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Nate Dogg
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File Sharing Networks-Good or Evil?

#1 Post by Nate Dogg » Fri Apr 25, 2003 3:17 pm

Interesting development in the File Sharing legal fight today. Any opinions?

Court Rejects Suit Against Web Song-Swappers
By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal court denied a request to shut down Internet song-swapping services Grokster and Morpheus on Friday, handing a stunning setback to the record labels and movie studios that have sought to curb unauthorized downloading of their works.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson said the two services should not be shut down because they cannot control what is traded over their systems. Like a videocassette recorder, the software in question could be used for legitimate purposes as well as illicit ones, he said.

"It is undisputed that there are substantial noninfringing uses for (the) Defendants' software," wrote Wilson, who serves in Los Angeles.

A recording-industry trade group involved in the case said it would appeal.

Wilson's decision marks the first significant legal setback for the entertainment industry in its battle against the wildly popular "peer-to-peer" services that allow users to download movies, music and other files for free.

Federal courts have ordered earlier peer-to-peer services such as Napster (news - web sites) to shut down, and courts have so far supported the industry's efforts to track down individual peer-to-peer users, as well.

But Wilson's ruling gives Grokster, Morpheus and other Napster successors some legal basis on which to operate. Just as the Supreme Court in 1984 said videocassette recorders should not be outlawed because they can be used for legitimate purposes, peer-to-peer services should not be shut down even though users are certainly trading copyrighted movies and music, he said.

Grokster President Wayne Rosso said he was surprised by the decision because it showed that the judge understood the technology. Peer-to-peer services could be used to enable the Pentagon (news - web sites) to better share information, among other uses, he said, and the recording industry should try to work with such services rather than driving them out of business.

"Grokster doesn't and hasn't ever condoned copyright infringement," Rosso said. "We hope this sends a clear signal to the rights owners in this case to come to the table and sit down with us."

The Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites) said it was disappointed with the decision.

"Businesses that intentionally facilitate massive piracy should not be able to evade responsibility for their actions," RIAA CEO Hilary Rosen said in a statement.

Rosen highlighted two portions of the 34-page decision she found favorable: first, that individuals are accountable for copyright violations; and second, Wilson's statement that Grokster and Morpheus "may have intentionally structured their businesses to avoid secondary liability for copyright infringement, while benefiting financially from the illicit draw of their wares."

The Motion Picture Association of America, whose movie-studio members also filed suit, had no immediate comment.

The decision could also provide a shot in the arm to Kazaa, another popular peer-to-peer service involved in a separate legal battle with the entertainment industry. A Kazaa spokeswoman said the company's lawyers were still evaluating the decision.

A Morpheus investor, speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in Silicon Valley, said the decision would give his product a boost just as the company plans to roll out a new version.

"The timing of this couldn't be better," said Bill Kallman, a managing partner at Timberline Venture Partners, which has invested about $4 million in Morpheus since 1999.

RIAA members include AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Music; Vivendi Universal's Universal Music; Sony Corp (news - web sites).'s Sony Music; Bertelsmann AG (news - web sites)'s BMG Music Group; and EMI Group Plc (news - web sites)..

MPAA members include Walt Disney Co.; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.;Paramount Pictures Corp.; News Corp Ltd.'s Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.; Vivendi Universal's Universal Studios Inc.; and AOL Time Warner's Warner Bros.

(Additional reporting by Ben Berkowitz in Los Angeles and Eric Auchard in Santa Clara, California)

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Greg Avakian
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#2 Post by Greg Avakian » Mon Apr 28, 2003 7:46 am

Good or evil? Evil, but inspirational.

1). I'd like to see musicians paid for what they do.
2). I'd love to see anyone who wants to be a musician have access to distributing their music and selling (or giving) it to consumers.
3). I'd love to see recod companies get enlightened and focus on developing music as a cultural resource that encourages the value of music as a representation of human artistic acheivemnt.
4). I want there to be places where music lovers can go to hang out, talk and listen to music -and then buy some.

Since #3 is unlikely to happen, I'm hoping that we move to a download-friendly culture with artists making the most money for their work. I think it would be really cool if online sales could somehow support physical CD stores that would allow people who love music or specific genres to own a store where you could go in and talk, be guided and have fun shopping for music (I don't think it's fun to buy online unless I'm getting an awesome deal -and while that makes me happy, it's not really "fun").

I don't know how much E-music pays artists, but I think it's a brilliant start. It encourages people to expose themselves to a lot of new /different music -BUT- since the sound quality isn't very good, it also encourages us to buy a CD of what we really like. That's a damn good start!

The bottom line (for me) is that artists should be rich and music stores should abound. How's that for a utopian semi off-topic answer?

Toon Town Dave
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#3 Post by Toon Town Dave » Tue Apr 29, 2003 3:22 am

I think the concept of file sharing is useful in the field of computer science in terms of distributed network technologies. Specifically on the subject of sharing copyright music (or other stuff) without permission, yes I think it is wrong both legally and morally. Like Greg says, it would be great if artists would be compensated for their work.

E-music appears to have what could be a viable business model but they are still a pretty small fish. Apple may be on the right track with their recent announcement but for the most part the record industry is still trying to hold on to the security blanket they've had for years.

In the ruling, I think the judges decision was correct based on the details of the case that I've read. The judge did indeed recognize that yes, a lot of pirating was happening but the case was not about preventing pirates from using the network but rather shutting down the network because pirates were using it. I would consider Napster to be in a little different boat because despite their denials, their software was clearly designed with the intent of facilitating unauthorized distribution of copyright muisic.

I think if it this way, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) can be used to commit credit card fraud, costing card holders and banks billions of dollars a year. Because the criminal element uses the PSTN does not warrant shutting down the telephone system becuase it can be used for legitimate purposes. On the other hand, someone using their telephone for fraudulant purposes may have their service revoked by way of their service agreement with the telco.

What should happen in the present legal framework is the RIAA or whomever must prove in a court that an infringement of a copyright took place. That proof would be sufficient to boot the user in question from the network. Further penalties are between the copyright owner and copyright infringer likely with the court deciding.

Personally, I do use file sharing networks to track down music which I may or may not like. If I like it, I try to find it on CD and eventually buy it. If I don't, it gets purged from my system. While ilegal in the strictest sense, I still sleep well at night because I know at least a third of my CD collection has been bought as a direct result of being able to fully preview a song. The unfortunate part is many mp3 files lack accurate information about the source (CD, tape, record) making it hard to track down when there are no 30s samples to match up to the downloaded track.

Nate Dogg
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#4 Post by Nate Dogg » Wed Apr 30, 2003 11:03 am

Development of the day...

RIAA Begins IM Campaign Vs. P2P Users; 4/30/03

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has begun sending warnings to individuals who offer copyrighted songs on peer-to-peer networks without authorization, Billboard Bulletin reports.

As part of its anti-piracy education initiative launched last year, the RIAA plans to send up to 1 million copyright-infringement warnings per month via P2P networks' instant messaging (IM) functions.

The warnings begin, "It appears that you are offering copyrighted music to others from your computer." They go on to explain the pitfalls of downloading music illegally, and implore the alleged abusers to cease and desist the practice by disabling their file-sharing software.

Civil-liberties organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says the campaign amounts to nothing more than "a lot of spam." "How is this going to put the P2P genie back in the bottle?" asks EFF senior intellectual property attorney Fred von Lohmann. "Do they really think they can essentially intimidate 60 million Americans into no longer using [P2P networks]?"

Also participating in the campaign are the American Federation of Musicians, Christian Music Trade Association, and Gospel Music Association.

-- Erik Gruenwedel, L.