Does The Entertainment Industry Understand Legitimate Use?

from the our-lawyers-are-better-than-your-lawyers dept

The music and movie businesses have long had a problem of separating the technology that's used for file-sharing from what they view as the criminal act of file-sharing itself. The recent Grokster decision has created a huge legal gray area where file-sharing networks can be held liable for copyright infringement if they take "affirmative steps" to encourage infringement, opening up what's likely to be a long, protracted and messy battle as copyright holders go after other technologies and concepts they don't like, such as fair use. Central to this whole affair has been the entertainment industry's refusal to accept that programs used for file-sharing could have significant, non-infringing uses -- the test established by the Betamax decision. Now, Om Malik reports on how BitTorrent is going "legit", even potentially seeking VC investment. But the most surprising aspect of all this is that the MPAA, RIAA and a couple movie studios are talking to BitTorrent, not about suing it, but how to use it -- yes, how to use it legitimately in a non-infringing way. These are the same groups that about two months ago were trying to figure out just how they could sue BitTorrent and its creator, Bram Cohen. Cohen says the Grokster decision separated piracy from technology, legitimizing programs with non-infringing uses. But as far as Hollywood's concerned, all it legitimized were their legal tactics, giving them the green light to go after people who they think encouraged piracy. So now, with those semantics in place, they can publicly recognize that technologies like BitTorrent have legitimate, non-infringing uses and act like it's not hypocritical. But, of course, that's because they think they've now got the right to determine what is or isn't a non-infringing use -- a decision that's decidedly not theirs to make.


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  1.  
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    Seer, Aug 11th, 2005 @ 3:28pm

    That isn't bad, per se.

    "But as far as Hollywood's concerned, all it legitimized were their legal tactics, giving them the green light to go after people who they think encouraged piracy."
    You act as if Hollywood doesn't have the right to go after companies and people who encouraged piracy. Well, if they are actively encouraging piracy, then they have every right to!

     

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  2.  
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    Carlo, Aug 11th, 2005 @ 3:45pm

    Re: That isn't bad, per se.

    The problem is that the entertainment industry assumes that it and it only gets to determine what exactly constitutes encouraging piracy -- and it's not hard to believe their threshold is far lower than most anybody else's.

     

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  3.  
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    deadzone (profile), Aug 11th, 2005 @ 4:24pm

    Re: That isn't bad, per se.

    I guess if you don't mind paying for things twice then it's okay. CD's and DVD's certainly don't last forever. It's not their right to sell me something that will only last for a finite amount of time ESPECIALLY if I have the means to back up ie.. copy what I legitemately paid for in the first place.

    You really think that their idea of fair use is going to allow for anything remotely close to fair for the consumer? If more copy protection was the actual solution to this problem then maybe. But it's not. That's their only answer though. More copy protection and less rights to what we rightfully paid for and thus own.

     

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  4.  
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    ascension, Aug 11th, 2005 @ 4:43pm

    Re: That isn't bad, per se.

    Good point. Am I the only one who remembers that the music co's statements that cd's WOULD last forever fueled the transition to CD? The same BS assertion is being made about DVD's, dispite the wealth of evidence against this. The industry enjoyed years of incredible sales fueled by everyone replacing tapes w/ cd's/DVD's - remember at that time ther were no CDR's or DVDr's available. I'd wager the same has happened evrytime the medium has changed. MP3 has effectively killed that since DRM can be circumvented and they absolutely hate it. Fair use most certainly gives us the right to back up our cd's and DVD's as we buy the right to use the music/movie NOT the medium itself. This IS how they justify the outrageous prices isn't it?

    btw, has anyone considered a class action against the music industry for fraud? For the lie about how long CD's would last even if they are perfectly maintaned ?

     

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  5.  
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    Seven, Aug 11th, 2005 @ 7:06pm

    Re: That isn't bad, per se.

    I think it's rediculous that any medium would be declared to last forever. There's physical damage done to a CD everytime it's read, everytime it's bent when you pull it out of a CD case. The same goes for DVDs. Several of my older CDs are deteriorated even though they've been sitting for ages, with no physical abuse.

    As for backing and copying legit CDs, I think it's amazing how little the consumer has to say. Are you guys aware of the TCPA? Windows Vista has this little virus implemented in it. www.againsttcpa.com explains my frustration.

     

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  6.  
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    John W, Aug 11th, 2005 @ 7:41pm

    Re: That isn't bad, per se.


    I partly disagree -- if you mean its not their right to PURPOSELY sell you something that you supposedly can have indefinitely but that THEY know secretly will only last for a specified, finite amount of time, then I do completely agree.

    If you are saying that it is not their right to sell you something that they STATE UP FRONT will only last for a specified, finite period of time-- they have every right to do that. You also have every right to accept their offer or tell them to go pound sand.

    If you are saying it is not their right to sell you something that won't last forever, I'd say you need to re-examine your surroundings. We buy stuff with limited lifespans all the time... milk, eggs, cheese, cars, computers, clothes, etc.

    I think the difference you might be attempting to articulate is that _some_ things last an "indefinite" finite amount of time-- ie, they wear out sooner or later but have no planned or built-in drop-dead date.

    And even that's not totally the case either. Many manufacturers of products-- cars, washing machines, refrigerators, stoves, etc-- use a concept of "planned obsolescence" and design with materials and techniques they know will fail within a statistically-derived period of time.

    So I'd say that on the whole, yes the music industry DOES have a right to sell us something that will only last a specified period of time, but ONLY if they are up-front about it and everyone knows that's what they're getting. Besides, the 45's, CD's, etc that you've already bought don't last forever either.

     

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  7.  
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    thecaptain, Aug 12th, 2005 @ 5:10am

    Re: That isn't bad, per se.

    The problem is that the music industry wants it both ways.

    They want to "license" the content of a CD to us on their (sometimes draconian) terms...HOWEVER, they ALSO want to treat it as a physical item, with all that it entails. They will switch from one form or another in discussions to their advantage.


    SO, when I go down to the music store and plunk down 15 bucks for music I want:

    If I license the thing, then the media doesn't matter...if it's wrecked, or later somehow inaccessible, I still have a VALID license to the music and should be able to download or get a replacement.

    If I buy the media as an ITEM...then I should be able to listen to it wherever I can use that item and copy that item.

    What they have is a hybrid of both the above with all the restrictions and none of the value.

     

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  8.  
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    aries, Aug 12th, 2005 @ 7:44am

    Re: That isn't bad, per se.

    I encourage piracy!

    Kids! Free music, DVDs software and porn! Go get it! Much better than paying and it's all FREEEEE!

     

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  9.  
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    Amandeep Singh, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 2:35am

    Re: Re: That isn't bad, per se.

    i alsa encourage piracy , its good

     

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