P2P suits, chilling effects, and a last stand

So, the MPAA is filing 286 more “John Doe” suits against internet users from logs obtained from old bittorrent sites LokiTorrent and SuprNova. I am sure that those who paid money to LokiTorrent to mount a legal defence will be feeling a bit silly by now, and proves that those logs were indeed important, as we predicted back in February.

This could lend credit to those who claim that the effects of Grokster are starting to be felt. According to an article in The Guardian, the chilling effect of the Grokster ruling on technology may hinder the development of new digital advances. The argument presented is that venture capitalists are abandoning file sharing technologies and investing in safer ones. This may be an accurate picture of what is happening, but I think that it is too early to tell because a lot of the most innovative P2P technology has been developed by hobbyists (Napster and bittorrent for example).

On the other hand, there are some more positive shifts in the copyfight (positive for us, the pinko-leftie commies that is). First, there is the amazing report that a new UK ISP will allow its users to share files from the Sony BMG catalogue. And then there is the very interesting case of a New York mother that has decided to take on the industry and fight a suit by the RIAA. It will be interesting if the RIAA will fight this, it could turn out to be a disastrous PR exercise, but many of us fear that this has gone beyond PR. They are suing dead people anyway.

Comments 3

  1. I agree that there are restrictions, but I share Cory's excitement here. This is the first indication that the music industry is willing to allow some changes to how things are done. To me what is important is not so much the scheme itself, but the change itself.

  2. Voluntary collective licensing was always going to be the first step. Many others have proposed media levies (most prominently William Fisher in his book 'Promises to Keep') but I always felt that the idea mooted by Lionel Sobel in "DRM as an Enabler of Business Models: ISPs as Digital Retailers" (Berkeley Tech Law Journal, volume 18:2) was likely to take hold sooner. Sobel notes the central role ISPs play in all internet communications and argues that they can be used to foster a paid-for P2P environment. Let's wait and see how PlayLouder get on. I discuss these issues in far more detail in an article in the Int. Journal of Law and IT ('Digital Copyright and the new Creative Dynamics', volume 12:3)

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