Here we go again. Lawyers for the music and film industry descended on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday. The mission: to overturn a ruling that clears file-trading services from being responsible for their pirate users.
The ruling came last April when the recording industry tried unsuccessfully to shut down the companies behind Morpheus and Grokster. As a result, the industry began suing individual pirates, including a 12-year-old girl caught downloading the theme song to the TV show, Full House.
Hopefully, the appeals court will do the right thing and uphold the previous determination. The ramifications of an overturned ruling would be ominous and far-reaching. If these software developers are found to be responsible for what takes place on their services, where do we draw the line? What about all the file-trading that occurs over instant messaging programs from AOL and Microsoft? Should these companies be held accountable too? Rather than demonizing the technology, which has perfectly legal applications, the industries should spend more time rolling with the changes and drafting up new business plans.