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Journal Raindance's Journal: MGM v. Grokster: working off steam with Lessig

Today the justice system sent a strong message to citizens: promote something by encouraging people to break the law with it, and you're going to get burned. This was in the context of a movie company suing a peer-to-peer company for distributing software that people could use to download movies (illegally)- the court ruled that, insofar as grokster (the p2p company) promoted their software as a tool that could be used for copyright infringement, they were liable for their users' actions. It now goes to a lower court for a ruling on whether grokster actually promoted it as a tool for breaking the law.

That's fine, but given the specific case, I'm a little disappointed. The unfortunate part about this is that the chilling effect of this ruling, and more importantly, the misinterpretations of this ruling, will probably cast a pall over innovation for years and years to come. As many have said, by this standard, Apple would have never dared to make the iPod (you're marketing it as a device that can hold 5,000 songs? Of course you're encouraging people to download music illegally to fill it). It's a shame the court didn't have a different set of priorities. And that they had Souter, the one justice that still refuses to use a computer, write the opinion-- presumably to send some kind of a message. I'm pretty discouraged about it.

I'd like to invite anybody that wants to work off some steam to help revise Lessig's "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace". You can find the wiki, with more information, here. It's a cool way to run a project to begin with, and maybe some future chief justice will read the book that you helped revise.

Information about the community revision of Code, lifted from the linked webpage:

"Lawrence Lessig first published Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace in 1999. After five years in print and five years of changes in law, technology, and the context in which they reside, Code needs an update. But rather than do this alone, Professor Lessig is using this wiki to open the editing process to all, to draw upon the creativity and knowledge of the community. This is an online, collaborative book update; a first of its kind.

Once the project nears completion, Professor Lessig will take the contents of this wiki and ready it for publication. The resulting book, Code v.2, will be published in late 2005 by Basic Books. All royalties, including the book advance, will be donated to Creative Commons."

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MGM v. Grokster: working off steam with Lessig

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"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments