Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Top court looks at file-swap technology / Studios want to sue software-maker over downloads

Third Person Perspective
This is an interesting article on the Supreme Court Case regarding file sharing networks. The article and the case have frequently referenced the 1984 Sony Betamax decision that allowed the use of VCR's despite the fact that they could also be used for illegal copying. Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association called the Betamax case the, "Magna Carta" of the industry.

Reading the article as an ex-Sony employee was interesting. It was a frequent topic of conversation internally and seeing the quotes from cautious and slow moving Sony media execs made it clear that I am now a third-person observer.

There are legitimate concerns on both sides but the extreme views on both sides are troubling. On the pro side, you have a whole generation of kids that have grown up downloading and burning music without any understanding or feelings that it might be wrong. There is a growing minority that is aware of the ethical issues but in the research we did we found that the large majority of college kids were not even aware of the ethical debate. On the extreme other side of the argument are music and movie executives... a relatively small group with a singular view of protecting ALL uses of their content in all cases with no acknowledgement of how the world might be changing. This is the group that was against radio and the VCR... technologies that have ultimately grown their business by significant margins. Both sides seem to be characterized more by their lack of understanding than their informed opinion.In the end, this is a very difficult issue. There are legitimate copyright concerns that are being ignored by a significant number of people. But, I suspect that the best way to get beyond this is to free consumers and technology companies to do what they do best... (spend and innovate respectively) . The content companies should continue to raise awareness of the issues and work on the new business models that may ultimately reward them with new revenue streams. It seems futile to try to block the natural evolution of a networked world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy -

Thanks for your thoughts. I'd enjoy an email exchange with you regarding design.

I could not find an email address for you on this blog, so I'm leaving this comment. You can reach me at

Have fun in New Zealand, if you're there. Good time for some hiking.

Sean Mast