Last week StreamCast Networks (makers of the Morpheus, Grokster, and Kazaa) won a monumental court battle against MGM. To put it simply, MGM tried to make the case that the makers of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software programs should be held accountable if the consumers that use their software infringe upon copyrights (i.e. trade music, movies, software, photos, documents, etc.). And guess what? MGM lost. When I read the news, I wasn’t actually too suprised, but it was good news for the entertainment industry. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s good for the entertainment industry. I’ve said it many times before, but the entertainment industry is moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to keeping up with the technology that is out there to distribute content – their content. The reason this is such a monumental case is because it wasn’t so long ago that Napster lost a similar fight, but the court realized that vague laws do nothing but stiffle innovation or as the EFF points out:
[T]he Court observed that, in the long run, a competive, unfettered market for innovation ends up helping copyright owners (even if it doesn’t help today’s entertainment industry oligopolists). In fact, today’s ruling will likely be remembered as yet another example of the courts rescuing the entertainment industry from its own short-sightedness. In the words of the Court, “Further, as we have observed, we live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet innovation. The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets, and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through wellestablished distribution mechanisms. Yet, history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine, or an MP3 player.”
Maybe I’m just a big geek for getting so excited about this, but I think it’s not only an exciting thing for consumers, but it’s going to mean that the entertainment companies are going to have to start acting a little faster and hiring people that think a little outside of the box. Or better yet, new companies are going to start cropping up to fill some of the voids. In any event, I was floored when I read what Jim Griffin had to say about it. It’s pretty clear this man not only gets it, but is in a position to make change from within the industry. I can only hope that people give some thought to what he has to say.