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The years-long battle over the proper balance between freedom and lockdown in the digital age shows no signs of abating. While Hollywood and high tech slug it out, the $100 billion consumer electronics industry has remained largely on the sidelines. Despite a few renegades, such as Philips Electronics (headquarters in the Netherlands), Archos (France), Pinnacle (Germany), or start-ups such as the former Diamond Multimedia or Sonicblue, electronics makers have a reputation for being beholden to Big Entertainment. And for good reason: nobody buys a DVD player or big-screen television unless there’s killer programming.
Perhaps in part because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled against a P2P developer in a case involving different technology (and without taking the California courts' decisions into account), the Supreme Court, announced on December 10, 2004 that it would hear this case and scheduled oral arguments for March 29, 2005. Adding to the already voluminous record, more than 50 amicus, or "friend of the Court," briefs were submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of the parties on both sides, as were several "neutral" filings. While few, if any, unexpected parties filed on behalf of entertainment industry interests in this case, supporters of Grokster's and Morpheus' position that the pro-innovation "Sony Doctrine" so critical to our culture and economy must be upheld included an astonishing diversity of respected public and private sector amici:
While media corporations shell out fortunes to protect their copyrighted content, traditional "fair use" rights for consumers — the freedom, for example, to make personal copies of the stuff you've paid for — seem to be slipping toward irrelevancy. Some DRM practices in development among content owners seem to cross the line from mere anti-consumerism toward outright anti-capitalism.
Hollywood has the tools to track file-sharing; they've sued over 10,000 people. So, why don't police ask Hollywood to help them fight child porn? Why isn't Hollywood sharing this technology? Seems to me that Hollywood could fight child porn if they wanted, so how come they're not?
Digimarc, and the content industry, now burn this straw as part of their push for the implementation of technological measures that prevent copyright infringement and assist enforcement efforts after a copyright infringement. The message is clear: P2P file-sharing companies better patch footnote 12. They better deploy (DigiMarc's watermarking) technology, not just to prevent infringement, but to prevent being shut down just because they fail to deploy watermarking, fingerprinting, encryption. Show good intentions, instead of intent. Redesign you open infrastructure, join the DRM club and legalize. In this light the failure to develop technological measures becomes a bit more than an extra, propelling footnote to intent by indications of marketing.In the meantime the catering Digimarc got today was a "coincidental" victory banquet with the Motion Picture Association of America "at a luncheon discussion with the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus". It must have had the sweet taste of success.