Saturday, April 26, 2003

Distributed Filesharing

A judge in an LA court has ruled that distributed filesharing networks are not liable for copyright violation by end users. The key distinction here is "distributed"--Napster is still not OK because it had centralized servers while Grokster is OK because it doesn't.

This argument reveals how stupidly narrow legal reasoning can be because to an end user (and to the RIAA), there is no difference between Napster and Grokster. This case, literally, hinges on a technicality. I am sure the RIAA will appeal if it can, and who knows what the ultimate ruling will be, but filetrading, at least for songs, seems to be here to stay.

Moreover, even invasive and pervasive DRM will not help because that will just create a market for non-DRM songs, the market indie-kids keep insisting is just around the corner now that Napster has democratized distribution and no we can't understand why people insist on download Brittney Spears. Tie Brittney up with DRM and suddenly The Exploding Buzzlivers start looking better.

This is what I want in an electronic music system: 1) a pricing scheme that reflects the fact that I download lots of stuff initially, and then download very little, 2) programming to help me find new songs or cool stuff I hear on the radio, 3) music that I can keep on my computer and/or iPod for 4) as long as I want. We'll see what Apple announces in the upcoming months.


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