A grim day for consumers, a happy day for the RIAA

Today thehe Supreme Court ruled that peer-to-peer companies could be held responsible for copyright infringement on their networks.
Supreme Court rules against file swapping

“There is no evidence that either company (Grokster or Streamcast) made an effort to filter copyrighted material from users’ downloads or otherwise impede the sharing of copyrighted files,” Souter wrote. “Each company showed itself to be aiming to satisfy a known source of demand for copyright infringement, the market comprising former Napster users.”

Souter wrote that the lower courts had misinterpreted the 1984 Sony ruling as saying that any non-infringing use, no matter how minimal, was enough to relieve a company of liability for copyright infringement.

Now I’m strongly against stealing intellectual property, but decisions like this can have a ripple effect through our lives.

For instance, I have a Tivo. There area few shows that I watch with my girlfriend at her place. So I copy them to a VCR tape, and take that tape to her place where we watch the show together.

I can do that because neither Tvio or my VCR have any kind of built-in DRM technologies, and I really want to keep things that way. Whenever I see the courts make a ruling like this, especially since they mentioned the Sony Betamax trial from 1984, it makes me really nervous (had the Betamax trial gone the other way, we wouldn’t have VCRs or CD-Roms today…at least, not in the format we have them now).

I despise the RIAA. I don’t believe they care about the artists. They just care about their huge cut. I’m much happier when I can buy a CD directly from the artist’s web page because I know then that the artist will get a fair share of my money.

Caveat: I’m certainly no lawyer, so the above are all layman’s opinions only….

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