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Monday, June 27, 2005
Hurry for unreasonable liability!
The Supreme Court has handed down a bunch of rulings today and the one that really had me watching as a technologist was the MGM/Grockster case (p2p) They ended up ruling that Grockster couldn't simply stand by "legitimate uses" which has been widely used (and generally wisely accepted) and that because it acknowledged and furthermore advertised its software as a way to pirate intellectual property it needs to accept liability for any any infringement on the networks it accesses. (IANAL, and I'm probably misinterrupting some of this - if you want a potentially better take on this watch the EFF's pages)
What I'm seeing in this case is that because Grockster advertised itself and its software as a way to pirate movies, music and software, it became liable. I can't see this as making a lot of sense. If I use a car, for example, to commit a crime - robbing a bank is good. Arguably the manufacture of the car could potentially be held libel for my actions if that specific car company had intentionally or inadvertently created an advertisement that "encouraged" illegal acts - in this case robbing a bank. So BMW could be held responsible for any number of crimes, while Ford or General Motors might be able to get away (BWM has done a lot of Product placement over the years - ie The Italian Job, The Transporter, they had a number of short films that could be argued as supporting illegal activity)
Like I said, I am not a lawyer, but this really seems to put a lot of stress on developers. I mean it could have been worse, but this isn't great...
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