Limewire: Cleaning Up Or Pretending To?

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Some of the P2P clients are apparently taking action to keep from getting sued keep from getting sued from the RIAA and Company.

I’ll talk about that in a moment, but one statement in that article is so stupendously stupid that it deserves a few words.

Earth To P2Pers

From the article:

“The Supreme Court ruled those who “actively induce” copyright infringement can be held liable. LimeWire never “actively induced” anyone – as it was always more of a research and development client than anything else (our emphasis).

Yeah, and Bill Clinton was just researching new cigar flavors. Or the Nazis were just doing insecticide R&D at Auschwitz.

If someone told you either with a straight face, you’d find it ludicrous, offensive. You certainly wouldn’t think much of anyone trying to pull either over on you. You’d think anybody saying either was completely out of touch with reality, or had absolutely no respect for truth and/or the intelligence of the reader.

To think you can make black white just by saying so is solipsistic, even autistic.

Yet this is so common these days in so many places that it approaches the norm.

Sorry, but you live in the real world, and you’re not God, or even a minor deity.

The Real Issue

Limewire must have taken one look at MGM v. Grokster and decided that the only way to be on the safe side was to to take steps to block any files that aren’t clearly licensed for sharing.

However, since Limewire is open source software, it is unclear whether or not the code for such blocks can easily be stripped away or not, and whether any program thus stripped will continue to function in the P2P network. Another potential loophole is the ability to attach Creative Commons license to an MP3.

Let’s assume at least one of these loopholes ends up being real and is extensively used. What then? Who becomes liable? The company that made it easy to strip the code. The hacker (who probably has no money and may well not even live in the U.S.) who provides the stripping tools? Or the user who uses the stripping tools?

As we said at the time of the Supreme Court decision, MGM v. Grokster didn’t decide or provide firm guidance on much of anything, so these cases are going to come back again and again and again until somebody steps up to the plate and does so.

In the end (and that could be a long time from now, years and years from now), either DRM solves the problem, or P2P gets banned in the U.S..

And frankly, the latter is unlikely to change matters much unless any anti-P2P laws get enforced, which not even the few places like Sweden who have passed such laws seem willing to do.

This is only going to stop if a) most people can be blocked technically from doing so or b) a lot of people get arrested and sent to jail.

I wouldn’t bet on the latter anytime in the foreseeable future.

Ed

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