Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


domingo, fevereiro 27, 2005

"Utilizações Ilegais" e Progresso Tecnológico

Increasingly, that same tension surrounds a dazzling new generation of high-tech products and services that help people copy, customize and increase the portability of digital works, sparking a sharp legal debate: How should courts view technologies that have beneficial uses but also are heavily used for illegal acts?

Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on whether a file-sharing service named Grokster should be held liable for the millions of people around the world who use it to illegally trade music, movies and software.

The entertainment industry is asking the court to rule that even though Grokster itself does not engage in stealing files, the service is responsible because it is predominantly used for theft and has done nothing to try to stop that use.

The prospect that the court might adopt this legal reasoning is sending shudders through the technology and consumer electronics communities. Hundreds of existing products could be threatened, they say. And they fear that new products, and early funding, will die in the crib if the gear might be co-opted by people wishing to use it improperly.
Device makers have fended off the entertainment industry before. In a case that set the legal standards that will be reviewed in the Grokster case, the movie industry sued Sony Corp. over its Betamax recorders, arguing that copying television programs violated copyright laws.

In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that making a copy to view at another time -- or "time-shifting" -- was an acceptable personal use. More broadly, it determined that device makers could not be held responsible for illegal acts of users as long as the product was "merely capable" of substantial uses that were legal.

The decision did not stop the entertainment industry from targeting, sometimes successfully, other products, including digital audio tapes, an early MP3 player and ReplayTV, a digital television recorder that also allowed users to skip commercials and send program copies to a handful of others.

In ReplayTV's case, the company was forced to shut down rather than fight industry lawsuits, said Andrew Wolfe, who was the company's chief technology officer. He said that once the litigation started, the company could not raise additional money from venture capitalists or other investors.

"What would have happened if you applied these same standards [sought by the entertainment industry] when people were shown the first Xerox machine?" Wolfe asked.
In one ongoing dispute, the movie industry is challenging Federal Communications Commission approval of a new feature from digital-recorder maker TiVo Inc. that allows its users to make copies of digitally enhanced television programs and transfer them to a limited number of other locations.

Attaway argues that product and service providers who base their businesses around piracy should not be able to hide behind the mantle of innovation.

"Why should device manufacturers be exempt from all possibility of litigation?" he asked.

Another source of tension will probably be copying of digital radio programs and other broadcast "streams" designed to be listened to but not downloaded.

Marks of the RIAA said his organization has told the FCC that users should be allowed to record only an entire program or stream, not cherry-pick individual songs to build their own music libraries.
Some who are concerned about the Grokster case say no matter what the Supreme Court does, the movie studios and recording labels are ultimately fighting a losing battle by trying to bottle up new technologies.

"We are moving into a world where access to information is more democratized," said Brad Burnham, a New York venture capitalist who works with early-stage media companies. "It's too easy to move it around. Value is going to shift from the creation of content to the organization and customization of that content."



Add a comment