A couple of further things occur to me relating to the Grokster decision. Firstly, a direct example from my own experience. I use a superb program called Audio Hijack. This allows me to record the audio output from any program in AIFF format, which can then be converted into something evil like MP3 for more convenient
copyright breach use. I mostly use this to record streaming radio so that I can listen to it at my convenience, which is perfectly legal (it’s called “time shifting” when applied to TV). I don’t actually share these files, not that I would mind, but they’re not easily searchable and I’m too lazy to tag them properly with all of the appropriate artists and so on. Clearly, though, Audio Hijack could be used to breach copyright. Like home taping, recording streaming audio kills music.
Here is the logo for the software from its site.
Do you think that that might be used in court to indicate that Rogue Amoeba (the authors) had an intention of promoting copyright infringement?
Secondly, it’s a mistake to think that a US Supreme Court decision necessarily means the death of global technology etc (note sarcasm: this decision itself doesn’t really mean the death of anything apart perhaps Grokster, it’s the direction that it represents that’s the problem). America Is Not The World, as you would know if you listened to more Morrissey. Forgive me for implying otherwise, oh Steven Patrick. We do, in Europe, have a lot of legislators who are very keen to ape every piece of corporate-friendly innovation-crushing that comes out of the States, so it may not help us either, but it doesn’t have direct relevance, and outside of the States many countries and companies just won’t care.
It may mean that companies restrict themselves from producing products that might get them sued in the US, but probably, given that the US is not by any means the only market for gadgets and software these days, it will just mean that they make things which they don’t release there, something that already happens quite a bit, much to Gizmodo‘s annoyance. It’ll be a bit of a kick in the teeth for general innovation given that the US does have a lot of people who research and produce this sort of thing, but it’ll hurt Americans more than anyone else – much of the world will shrug and say “yeah, whatever” and stock up on pre-ban iPod clones to be smuggled back into the US by tourists.
And if you think that’s ridiculous imagine what will happen if Trusted Computing becomes mandatory, which a lot of people… well, lawyers and corporate scum… would like to see happen. After all, you can bet that other governments aren’t going to legislate for a scheme which enables US corporations to control their computers. And where is it that chips are made these days? Clue: it’s not Washington.