In case you were wondering. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the MGM v. Grokster case. What is this, you may ask? Well, it might very well be the case that kills devices like the iPod, TiVo, DVD burners and other inventions not yet imagined. All the details can be found at the EFF site. And also at the RIAA as well. Go to the EFF site and learn. Then, come back and read the rest. I’ll wait. . . .Ok, good. Now . . .
This case is important because if it goes the way that the Bush Administration, the Christian Coalition, the RIAA and Motion Picture Industry want it to, it would mean that companies who make a product could be held liable for the illegal use of that product. So, in the case of Grokster, they will be held liable for inventing something that people sometimes use to swap music and movie files without paying for them. This, of course, could lead to companies being afraid to invent new technologies for fear of liability and so devices like the next-generation iPod or Tivo or DVD burner would never be made.
I wonder if this type of ruling could apply to people who make really dangerous things. Like guns. I have a hard time believing that President Bush and his friends at the Christian Coalition would be so hell-bent to include gun manufactures in this type of ruling. After all, guns kill people every day. If gun manufacturers didn’t make guns, or because of liability claims, guns were way to expensive to make, then there wouldn’t be any guns to buy and people would not be killed with them. How about if we go even further? Car companies could be held liable when a drunk idiot decides to kill a family of four by crashing his H2 into their Honda accord. Sounds silly, right. And so is this case.
I’m not for one minute saying that file sharing of music and movies is life or death. It isn’t. The RIAA and the Motion Picture Industry sure seem to think it is. For the record, I think its wrong to steal music or movies off the internet. People who do that sort of thing should be punished. Listen to that sentence again. The people who do that sort of thing should be punished. Yes, I feel that the people who actually commit a crime should be punished for it. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water (i like that saying and I think it actually applies here).
I also think that DVD burners, iPods, TiVo and other devices like them serve a legitimate purpose. For example, I often make videos and burn them to a DVD to watch later. I also take cd’s that I already purchased or won in a poke game, rip them into iTunes and then make a mix CD out of some of the songs. I also buy music from the iTunes music store and play it with my iPod. And yes, I also rip DVD’s that I own to my hard drive as a backup and for trips so I don’t have to bring along a bunch of disks. I just store the video on my Powerbook hard drive or the iPod for my later viewing pleasure. Saves on Powerbook battery life too.
Do I make thousands of copies and sell them someplace in Asia? Nope. Do I make one copy just in case? Yep. I’m not sure if the Motion Picture Industry realizes this or not but DVD’s actually scratch. Even me, who is very careful with my stuff, have scratched a DVD now and again. So, having a backup is a good thing. Yes, I use it for a backup. I don’t post it or anyting else. Just a backup. Lots of people do that. Should that be illegal?
This case comes at a time when I strongly feel that the Government is getting into our personal business far too much and has lost focus on its real job. Doesn’t Congress and the President have better things to do than worry about what Baseball players took steroids or if one woman in Florida has the right to die or not? She does, if she wants to. Especially if that’s what she told her husband. Just because after 15 years he has moved on and tried to start a life, doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about her and want what’s best for her. It’s certainly not the business of the United States Congress and the President of the United States.
And anyone who thinks that athletes don’t take steroids is living in fantasy land (or is that fantasy-baseball land?). It happens people, learn to live with it. Gone are the days of good guys like Hank Aaron or the Babe, who even did it in fewer games. Barry Bonds takes steroids, that’s probably one of the reason he is such a dick. How about a plan to get us out of the mess you created in Iraq, Mr. President?
So, if you want to do something good for your country, write a letter to your Congress Person and Representatives and let them know that you would rather have affordable healthcare, better schools, clean water and air and a lack of terrorism than a steroid-free baseball season or a law banning your ability to make a copy of that “XXX” or “Soul Plane” DVD that you recently purchased at Wal-Mart.