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Jun
23
2005

Today’s eWeek column is about – what else? – Grokster.
More precisely, it’s about MGM v. Grokster and how the Supreme Court decision is going to set the stage for the mother of all lobbying battles between Hollywood and the tech community. The geeks are going to win. Mr. Steve Jobs – the man who made on-line music legit – has taken care of that. The iPod is loved. So is the technology that makes it happen. Hollywood knows this; they’ve been playing a pretty decent delay game so far. How fast they’ll come out of that defensive posture is the real question here.
One of the things that’s been interesting to watch is the way in which tech PR folks are gearing up for the coming fight. They’re treating the court ruling as if it’s a trade show. One poor soul went as far as to predict a decision last Monday. Yes, well, they’re the Supreme Court. They don’t do things on anyone else’s schedule.
And they’re becoming increasingly less predictable. A supposedly conservative court said today that eminent domain – a government’s right to seize property – can be expanded in certain circumstances. This does not bode well for our friends in Hollywood who are arguing that their right to protect their property – movies and songs – comes before the importance of innovation and invention.
One of the more fascinating parts of this case is the way in which it neatly puts the two sides of the copyright clause of the U.S. Constitution – that’s correct, copyright and patents are in the constitution – against each other.
Here’s the clause from Article I, Section 8, Powers Granted to Congress:

Copyrights and Patents. To promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited time to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

This wording alone suggests that copyright is Congress’ mess to sort out. Which is why this fight is just getting started.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:31 AM | Permalink

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