I posted this on my company blog yesterday (MindComet). I’m to lazy to write another commentary on it, so here it is:
The US Supreme Court has been quite active over the last two weeks, handing out decisions on a number of high-profile cases. The most important ones to us in the interactive arena are MGM vs Grokster and Brand X vs FCC.
Does P2P = Illegal?
In the MGM vs Grokster case the Supreme Court had a unanimous ruling that stated:
We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties.
At first look, this ruling makes sense. The outright and overt theft of media content will no longer be tolerated. There are a couple of questions that arise from this though. First, will this actually stop the file sharing, or does it just drive it further offshore and underground? Second, how will this ruling affect companies like Google and Yahoo! that end up financing illegal websites by the use of their ad serving technology?
Fewer Choices and Higher Rates
Brand X vs the FCC and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has a different, but equally far-reaching effect. The final decision by the Supreme Court said that cable companies don’t have to share their lines with rival providers of high-speed internet service. The firm duopoly of cable and DSL continues. However, there might be a silver lining to this ruling for the end-customer. The higher the rates go for broadband and DSL, the more investment there will be into the wireless market. As technology gets better, and investor support increases, the third option will be wireless networks that preclude the use of cable and phone lines all together.
I can’t help but get the feeling that big business is getting their way here, in both cases.