Grokster and open source

Grokster and open source

Summary: "This volume needs to be embraced and managed because it cannot be vanquished. And a tone must be set that allows future innovation to stimulate negotiation and not just confrontation."

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Hilary RosenAt the heart of the Grokster decision is the idea that, if your business model is based on infringing copyright, you can be held liable for violations by third parties.

Most open source projects don't have a business model.

While it's likely that groups like the RIAA will want to pore over open source development records, looking for a "smoking gun" indicating someone thought about downloading Metallica with the resulting software, the fact is also that many open source projects aren't produced by companies, but by groups of individuals. With no money to take, a lawsuit for damages takes nothing.  

In addition, the intent to violate copyright must be shown by the clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, according to Justice Souter's opinion. That's not a low hurdle. If open source developers keep their mouths shut all the RIAA can do is go after every user of the resulting software.

This means file trading will be going open source big-time. And I don't know how the industry can stop it.  As former RIAA head Hilary Rosen (above) writes "This volume needs to be embraced and managed because it cannot be vanquished. And a tone must be set that allows future innovation to stimulate negotiation and not just confrontation."

There's a clear way ahead to ending the copyright wars. There's also a clear way ahead toward escalating the conflict. Which way it goes is up to the industry.

Topic: Open Source

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11 comments
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  • A waste of time

    First of all, it was not open source that set the stage for p2p applications. In fact We were ripping CD's on windows first and downloading from mp3 ftp sites.

    Besides, people are still going to share and trade files no matter what happens. It's always been this way. That's how we got p2p software.

    Copy rights should be protected. It is not the fault of users who were given the tools to share files. We have CD and DVD writers as well as VCR's and a wealth of hardware and software to copy anything. Who's idea was that?

    This crap has been going on for years. It's a waste of time and money. There should have been protection in place before hand. Like write protection on media.

    The bank has a vault, security, and alarms. Even though there is a law in place. It takes more than law, and rulings to stop theft.
    xstep
    • It's not?

      "It is not the fault of users who were given the tools to share files."

      It isn't? Just because they have the tools doesn't mean they have to use them to infringe on copyrights. P2P tools, just like CD burners, can be used lawfully or unlawfully. It's not the tool at fault, but the tool user.

      Carl Rapson
      rapson
      • They will and do

        You are right but it would not even be an issue if only a handful of kids shared copy protected files. It's the volume and no court can prosecute that volume. We would have case loads backed up to the next century.

        All your saying is it's not the hardware and software vender's fault. Which is true to some extent. However, they know they can't be held responsible. But they had to know this would happen.

        All I'm saying is things could have been done with the BIG chance of copy right infringement in mind.I guess to some it's just business and to users it's just enjoyment. What's more is the fact that most people don't see it as a crime because they are not selling it without permission.

        There are those ha ha ha I stole your music people but we can't account all users to that. I know Police departments that installed NT on more than one computer. People just don't think about it.

        So where were all the smart people? Where were all the thoughtful respectable, and resopnsible people?
        xstep
  • Why is why...

    ...content companies are going to work very hard to prevent use of their products from open source systems, by using DRM technology that will require licensing terms.

    Granted, DRM can be broken, but where there's a will, there's a way, and the content companies have the will to make strong DRM solutions. Don't imagine they won't realize that dream.

    What bothers me is there is STILL no recognition that file trading is wrong. Lots of "ha ha, you're not going to stop us from trading music" responses, but no "maybe it's not such a good idea to violate copyright on music." That would go a long way towards making content companies want to help the open source community use their products.
    John Carroll
    • John's point

      You have an excellent point, which I didn't mention here, but have mentioned elsewhere. That is, content outfits won't license their DRMs under open source terms. Thus any open source product that tries to use content violates the DMCA because it must break a DRM to do so.

      During the debate on that act the content industries insisted, repeatedly, that they weren't making industrial policy and were protecting fair use.

      I think they lied.

      And because they lied, those in the open source world -- which is more than Linux as you know -- haven't even been brought into the copyright conversation.

      Which has done more to harm the industry than anything else, in my opinion.

      Good catch. Thanks.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • Which is why...

    ...content companies are going to work very hard to prevent use of their products from open source systems, by using DRM technology that will require licensing terms.

    Granted, DRM can be broken, but where there's a will, there's a way, and the content companies have the will to make strong DRM solutions. Don't imagine they won't realize that dream.

    What bothers me is there is STILL no recognition that file trading is wrong. Lots of "ha ha, you're not going to stop us from trading music" responses, but no "maybe it's not such a good idea to violate copyright on music." That would go a long way towards making content companies want to help the open source community use their products.
    John Carroll
    • My problem...

      My problem with all this new copyright protection stuff, is the fact that I can't simply copy my music onto my computer and burn it on a CD to listen to it.

      I buy all my originals, burn them and then listen to the burned copies (as to not damage the original) in order to listen to my music.

      The perfect example is trying to do that with the Coldplay album I bought the other day.

      So instead, I had to circumvent the copy protection in order to do it. I will make sure to inform others whom I know buy these CD's on how to circumvent the protection.

      As for when DRM hardware comes out on computers? I won't be buying that computer that's for sure. Something about restricting what I do with my property that just doesn't seem to sit well with me.

      I don't care if the software is rented.. I bought the cd and should be able to do what I want with my damn cd. Period.
      ju1ce
    • analog hole

      no matter what they do you can always play the file and re-record it with a microphone.
      pesky_z
  • the cat's waaaaayyyyy out of the bag

    I believe that the number of traded files was somewhere over 1.something BILLION files traded last year, or over the term, but I have to imagine that those files still exist somewhere, waiting to be traded again. I have a feeling that any kind of "lock" put on cd's would be roughly equivilent to putting a band aid on a river.
    pesky_z
    • Not for new files

      A CD lock would put future content out of reach of those who didn't make an affirmative act to break the law, at least in the first instance (by breaking the lock).
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Sure, Dana

        [i]A CD lock would put future content out of reach of those who didn't make an affirmative act to break the law, at least in the first instance (by breaking the lock).[/i]

        And watch what happens when some record company comes out with the new "Secure Music" [1] format. It's guaranteed unbreakable because it only works with class-D speakers with encryption built into the final amplifier stage, bidirectional communications back to the player, and call-home features to check for revocation (in which case the devices all self-destruct.)

        How many will they sell, given that the "SM" disks don't play on any of the installed base? How many "SM" car players will they sell?

        Consumer electronics is a cutthroat business, and adding a few bucks to the cost of a unit for a "feature" that is only (maybe) useful in the future is a non-starter.

        Remember DivX? Circuit City's ultra-secure video system (designed by the MPAA to keep their precious bits safe?) The studios killed it by publishing non-DivX movies because the market was larger.

        Well, how many record labels will pass up sales to all of those CD players out there in order to keep their bits securely locked?

        [1] Trademark: "SM" over a background of chains.
        Yagotta B. Kidding