The Other P2P . . .

During this whole P2P Era, I always wondered, “Why doesn’t the RIAA and MPAA and the BSA ever bother with newsgroups?”

After all, you can find pretty much the same things there you can on a P2P network.

Well, the other shoe has dropped. The record companies are now suing Usenet. Here’s the news story; here’s the actual legal filing.

This is going to be an important case, and unless Usenet gives up, it will probably end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why? How is Usenet different than a P2P network?

Usenet is different in that it has many thousands of active newsgroups that are perfectly legitimate, and substantial non-infringing use is a decisive factor in determining whether a device or activity also used for infringing activities is legal or not.

While the vast bulk of content and usage on Usenet measured by gigabytes and bandwidth certainly are centered around those bad binary groups, if you measured Usenet usage by individual posts to newsgroups, the percentage of legit stuff would be quite significant.

Which matters more? Who knows? The Supreme Court certainly hasn’t considered the point; the current nine probably have never heard of Usenet.

Not to say that they will, but if there’s any file-distribution system that might pass muster with the SCs; it’s Usenet.

This is a case the RIAA and Company could lose, which is maybe why they’ve waited all this time before suing.

Maybe this case will finally provoke the U.S. Congress to get off its dorsals and revisit copyright law.


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