Friday, August 20, 2004

Grok this RIAA & MPAA! (Induce it as well!)

Decision came down on the Ninth Circuit Grokster case upholding the district court's grant of partial summary judgment in favor of Grokster et al.

First the links: Slashdot post and one at The Importance Of... The latter includes additional links to coverage of this decision everywhere in the known universe. Also a link for those who argue that the Ninth Circuit is not the circuit whose decisions are most often overturned.

I'm glad for the decision but wary of its consequences. Yes it's good for Grokster & Morpheus et al. Yes, thank you Ninth Circuit for explicitly following binding precedent as opposed to a more expansive reading. Yay for the file sharers of the world and take that RIAA/MPAA!

BUT, and this is a big, BIG BUT, there are a few things to remember. The decision specifically notes that it is the province of Congress to alter Copyright law. And Congress is working on doing that with the Induce Act. For those who haven't been following, the Induce Act is intended to specifically combat such things as P2P networks. It would make it illegal to "induce" copyright infringement. As it stands, hearings are (were?) being conducted on this potential legislation. It's also worth noting that the legislation, again as it stands, is overly broad and capacious. It has all of us internet RIAA/MPAA-hating liberal crazies up in arms. And the kicker?

The Grokster decision could easily push Congress to adopt the Induce Act.

Yep, you got it. A beneficial decision here could influence those copyright lovers up on the hill to *gasp* pass the Induce Act.

Now what about the Supreme Court you may ask? Might they not grant certiorari and hear this case? Well, yes, they could.. but why? If Congress is currently considering a law specifically intended to address this point, why would SCOTUS grant cert. on the same issue? If I were SCOTUS, I'd wait to see what Congress does.

You may also be thinking: "Yeah, but they're not actually crazy enough to pass this tripe... are they?" Maybe. Let's not forget that these are the same people who brought us the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (aka the CTEA; whose constitutionality was confirmed by SCOTUS) and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (aka the DMCA; which has been used in questionable circumstances, albeit not always successfully). If Congress has seen fit in its infinite wisdom to produce two such wonderful pieces of legislation, what's to prevent it from producing another such as the Induce Act?

Don't forget that someone may have influenced Congress' enaction of the CTEA. Can we expect to see similar influences on the Induce Act from other groups? Could this become the next Mickey Mouse Law?

It's difficult to tell and only time has all the answers. While Grokster and Morpheus can breath easy, they certainly shouldn't be counting their chickens.