A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The end of file sharing?

Both Economist.com and NYTimes.com are running stories today about the US Supreme Court decision to allow a copyright infringement lawsuit against Grokster and Streamcast Networks.

The decision overturns a ruling by federal courts that the two companies were not responsible for the ways in which their customers used the file swapping networks.

It appears to be a win for the music and film industries over the tech industry and concerns have been raised over the effect this will have on technical innovation. To be honest though, the cries over all the good work that will be stifled by this heavy handed lawsuit remind me of my own defensive posturing in grade school when questioned about missing homework.

Roughly 90% of file sharing traffic is copyrighted music and movies. The 10% of legitimate files being transferred could probably be handled by a dressed up FTP service. These companies must be aware that without the free music and movies their user base, and thus advertising revenue, would be significantly lower.

But I could be wrong. Do any of you use Grokster, Morpheus, ShareBear, LimeWire, eDonkey, eMule or some other file sharing service to swap files legally?

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