MGM Grokster Thoughts Part 2 – Tech, SCUSA & Rock n Roll

I have gotten quite a bit of interesting feedback on this topic and have also seen some wonderful discussion on various discussion lists, including one of my favorites, the PHO list.

Rather than just letting this fall away,I thought I would add some more ….

Does P2P help or hurt content sales?

The problem with all of this conjecture about value of P2P is that it only considers today’s applications and there is not real quantitive information about the impact on sales today, only anecdotal information. Did anyone see the NYTimes article the other day where the movie industry wouldn’t even release their international sales? Makes it tough to quantify whether sales have been negatively impacted if there arent any published international numbers.

I think there are more legal music downloads than illegal

No question that music and movies are the most visible content distributed by P2P. Do we know if on an absolute basis most of that music in particular is illegally distributed? No we don’t. It’s very conceivable that there are far more personal, vanity projects and independent projects that are being offered on the net than charting music.

It’s also probable that the most popular music that is being downloaded is being downloaded illegally. But has anyone done any analysis of the long tail vs the most popular titles?

Chris Anderson of Wired has written brilliantly about the bellcurve of content and information distribution on the net. That popular items are just that, popular. My guess however is thatin absolutenumbers, the long tail of thedownload distribution curves, both in terms of number of songs , and in number of songs downloaded, overwhelm the number of copyrighted songs illegally being downloaded.

How many songs are in the catalogs of the RIAA memberlabels vs the number of songs on all the indie music sites on the net? Anyone have an idea? How many self-publishing artists and bands are there offering downloads? Want to bet A < B+C?

That’s today. Killing the golden goose of progress is what scares me more than anything about all of this P2P hating.

What about future applications? What applications or technology will be aborted before their time if the entertainment industry has their way?

1 megapixel cameras have turned into 7 megapixel cameras, whichwill turn into 10 megapixel cameras. DV cameras will turn into HDV then HDCam Cameras. All have ever increasing bandwidth and storage requirements. All have business and personal applications. All benefit significantly from bit torrent type P2P applications.

With broadband to the home getting to 10mbs, and hopefully beyond as competition heats up between cable and telcos, is it inconceivable that we would want to setup a password protected bit torrent network so we can share our hospitalXrays with specialists, and then store them in an XDrive like application so we can retain access to our own medical histories?

Is it inconcievable that we at somepoint in the future want to submit anonymously the list and dosages of medication we are taking along with high resolution Xrays and pictures that are distributed to systems that analyze the mix looking for red flags that are then reviewed by physicians and returned, still anonymously back to us? This type of application can’t happen in a typical client server environment. Peer to Peer is a foundation for this type of application.

High Resolution of High Def and new gen cameras will open up new applications in healthcare, business and home use. The bandwidth and storage requirements of these applications will swamp the broadband lines using traditional server/client distribution. P2P/Bit Torrent applications can be the model for efficient enabling of these appications.

Then there are the benefits to mobile applications. Spectrum is expensive in this country. We still have not reached the point where 3G or faster networks are widely enabled, and even they are very limited in bandwidth. P2P applications to distribute videos or pictures we take on our phones to our buddy lists or families will save valuable bandwidth.

The ability for emergency relief workers to distribute videos of instructions on how to deal with a situation will be an invaluable application. In a car wreck and need instructions on how to apply a bandage or worse? Over the next 10 years 911 will be able to distribute a video with instructions to you and those around you and talk you through it. P2P is the most bandwidth effective distribution solution.

You can let your entrepreneurial imagination run wild on the types of applications that can be enabled with efficient bandwidth applications in a mobile environment.

Why would the supreme court even consider eliminating these opportunities?

I think we have forgotten that EVERY SINGLE BOOK, PICTURE and MOVIE that exists today, and has ever existed to this point in the 230 year historyof this country will at one point bein the public domain. Owned, shared and enjoyed by the citizens of this country. From this day forward, the ability to generate digital content will be ever simplified and made less expensive. The amount of digital content created going forward will expand exponentially.

It is the job of the Supreme Court toprotect our ability to share, distribute and enjoy everysingle digital bit of it. That obligation in and of itself is enough of a non infringing use of P2P for it be protected forever.

Do we want to kill off applications that could change our lives for the better to give the music and movie industries control over the technology ?

Do we want to set a precedent that shrinkage in an industry is enough to kill off technological innovation? Should we ban pants with pockets to prevent shoplifting?

There is no question that there are substantial non infringing applications. These are things that I came up with off the top of my head. I’m sure there are much smarter people that can come up with much better. Hopefully come March 29th,good sense will prevail.

23 thoughts on “MGM Grokster Thoughts Part 2 – Tech, SCUSA & Rock n Roll

  1. Why don’t they grease my P2P company instead of try to run it into the ground, are they that scared? I bet when they went into Brianna Lahara’s bedroom (12 year old law suit victim) they found a whole crop of legally purchased CDs as well as shared music. Should a CD really even be worth $20?

    Comment by runescape money -

  2. The music industry irritates me the most. Record labels grease radio stations to play their song for free, but hate on P2P when millions of the same singles are shared. I believe only the upper echelon of P2P downloaders would have the wherewithal to download and burn a full album at CD quality.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  3. Si analizamos nuestra realidad, talvez lleguemos a la conclusión de que el espiritu del rock and roll hoy en día no es posible.
    A finales de los años 50, el mundo entero se contagió de una fiebre de cuero, charol y brillantina al mejor estilo de Elvis Presley. La moda eran las pandillas, los autos convertibles, los jeans apretados para los hombres y los pescadores coloridos para las mujeres. Así quedó plasmado en producciones cinematográficas como Rebelde sin causa (con James Dean, 1955) y El salvaje (con Marlon Brando, 1953), cuyos argumentos apelaban al estereotipo de época que cautivaba por igual a niños, jóvenes y adultos.

    Comment by Hotel Almuñecar -

  4. I’ve written a reply to this article titled “P2P is not a crime”. In it I discuss how the industries could utilize P2P technology to increase their profit margins and lower retail costs, as well as reaching an infinitely larger consumer base. I also denounce the theory that copyright infringement is somehow beneficial, and that we should avoid that theory and stick with one more understandable, say zero distribution costs. You can read my reply at .

    Comment by Cortland Klein -

  5. Bit torrent sites are a search mechanism for content. Google is also a search mechanism for content. Computers are copy machines. To view this web page your computer must copy it on to itself. All computer content is digital, its all ones and zeros, word documents, mp3s, movies, web pages….. How is possible to stop p2p without stopping computers. All computers are by nature are p2p machines. Bram Cohen the creator of bit torrent is shaking in his boots right now, all because he figured out a way to move a larger amount of ones and zeros faster. The **AA will outlaw the computer as a whole, if they win. I hope the supreme court can understand that the first copyrights where made for player pianos, and that concept just deosn’t apply anymore.

    Comment by Dirty Muffin -

  6. Mark has this fairly right. Funny, he seems to have more savvy than many rich people, even other ones who made their own money like Turner.

    I’ve been working with IP for almost 30 years, now, and the solution to this problem is not tightening modern copyright law. The system needs, somehow, to find a way to reward creators without obstructing access. Obstruct access and you create pirates.

    This is inherent in the internet.

    It is a classic observation that “The Internet treats censorship as noise and routes around it”.
    Censorship is: “This we deem dangerous, therefore you may not access it.”
    Copyright is: “This you have not paid for, therefore you may not access it.”

    Both the activities are about controlling access.

    Hence, it seems clear: “The Internet treats copyright as noise and routes around it”.

    Playboy suppresses Scanmaster, a dozen, then a hundred scanners pop up to take his place.

    The RIAA suppresses Napster, and Bearshare, Kazaa, Bit Torrent, and dozens, eventually hundreds, of other pop up to take Napster’s place.

    The internet has routed around copyright.

    Rewards are still needed, for creators to create and investors to invest — this is not by any means a polemic against personal profit from one’s works. But the rewards have to tie to the release and social utility of the creation, not to access to the creation.

    Comment by Nick B. -

  7. Personally I think that the movie companies have their knickers in a bunch over well..nothing. They have friends at the RIAA who say that P2P will the be the end of them, yadda yadda yadda.

    The movie companies already have a good business model. Movie receipts are through the roof, and DVD sales are insane. They provide tons of bonus features, and that attracts consumers like moths to a flame. Most downloading, to be honest, is of new release films that people would buy or rent on DVD if they could, but they’re not released yet….

    The theatre experience is unique enough. They don’t have to worry a bit about this in the future. Really.

    The RIAA’s problems are much more vast. Because of the lower overhead in making music, what the RIAA are trying to do is limit the promotion angles. They control most of the airwaves, with all the radio media consolodation. P2P isn’t competition for record sales. It’s competition for promotion. The RIAAs big concern is that the next big thing will say that they don’t need the big labels for anything, and they’ll self-publish. That will encourage more people to self-publish, then you end up with a musical community that is flourishing through the internet, and the labels are shut out. That’s their big worry, and why they’re so big on shutting down P2P.

    That said however, about the overhead, I’m getting ready to shoot a no-budget horror movie some time in May. So it IS possible for the MPAA to be screwed by the promotion game…

    Just not as likely I guess because the major labels still make and distribute good movies.

    Comment by Karmakin -

  8. “That’s today. Killing the golden goose of progress is what scares me more than anything about all of this P2P hating.”

    Sorry Mark, I respect your point of view but think you’re way off base on this one. No one is killing the Golden Goose. The rightful owners of the content simply want it protected and paid for. Legal P2Ps are slowly starting to develop and eventually a robust digital distribution system will be in place. In the meantime, thank god for Overpeer and Loudeye.

    But, if you’re really on the side of the those who steal and hide behind the argument that it’s just fine because those mean old labels make so much money, I’m sure won’t press charges if I sneak into the AAC and enjoy a nice platinum level seat for free. Or maybe I could come sit by you and we could discuss intangible property rights. Heck I’ll even by you a pretzel.

    Bottom line, for those artists like Jeff Tweedy who don’t mind there songs distributed for free, great and they should go right ahead. For those artists who want to distribute for free to gain exposure, power on. But for those who want to receive payment, they should not be at the mercy of genius crackers who smash through DRMs and distribute there product for free.

    Now, back to my paid for MusicMatch OnDemand service for some legal digital music.

    Nice win over Sactown tonight by the way.

    Comment by Blake -

  9. I was reading some of the briefs filed for the plaintiffs in Grokster v MGM,
    I was shocked when I came across a brief filed on behalf on various musicians.
    Among those listed were members of ?The Dead?. The hypocrisy is ironic. ?The Dead? encouraged people to record their shows. ?Dead? bootlegs became a cottage industry.
    The ?boots? were usually poor in quality but outstanding in content. I couldn?t help laugh at the closing line of the brief. I paraphrase ?By allowing this to continue it is similar to making drugs legal to sell but illegal to use?

    Comment by Jerry G -


    Quick article that shows a larger impact of the over-ruling.

    Comment by PSC -

  11. You know, this was one of the better articles I’ve read about P2P. Here’s the thing that the music and movie industry don’t understand. While not everyone was around or knew about P2P, it’s not a recent “problem.” I mean, this started with IRC as far back as 1995 maybe earlier. Things have only evolved since IRC, like Napster, Kazaa, Grokster, etc.

    The programming gets smarter, the in-groups get smaller, and the product gets better. I personally went through problems like this with an MMORPG company, we continued to change our programming to sidestep them until they gave up. Eventually they’ll give up or the sharing will just go underground again, either way it’s never going to stop.

    Comment by R. Stuart -

  12. My experience is that anytime something is FREE or requires a small one time payment, you are bound to be infected with Malware or Spyware.

    I don’t see how a good P2P service could be offered without spending good money to be sure you get good quality. Nobody does anything for free… pay a monthly fee (to cover royalties and maint) or get your computer infected with money-making ads. Otherwise, you would have to only be hooked up with peers who are honest and trustworthy. Is that even possible. Additionally, what’s the chance that your “peer” won’t have what you are looking for?

    Comment by Mike Coday -

  13. Well after getting contacted by the record companies lawyers and having to shell out $3500 for a whole 80’s and hip hop collection I stil say it was worth every dollar. P2P software doesn’t affect the record industry. I wouldn’t go out and buy some of the songs I downloaded but me sharing it with others who may have never heard or forgot the song might get people interested in an artist again. The whole rewason this 80’s nostaglia is back is because people started downloading the music. I’m suprised the record companies didn’t bring a lawsuit against me because back in ’86 I taped 6 songs of the radio and shared with my friends.. They make me sick!

    Comment by Keith -

  14. I own a P2P service similar to Grokster, as well as a DVD copying application. Both have been stripped of most of their functionality after a battle with movie studios and the RIAA. I won’t mention my sites here because I am posting for personal gratification not financial.

    This article was one of the best and most eloquently spoken pro P2P editorials I have read. I may steal some of the points next time I have to defend P2P. The music industry irritates me the most. Record labels grease radio stations to play their song for free, but hate on P2P when millions of the same singles are shared. I believe only the upper echelon of P2P downloaders would have the wherewithal to download and burn a full album at CD quality. So with that said, won’t the majority of downloaders just end up with their favorite radio single in digital format or on a mix cd? Isn’t getting them to hear the single the ultimate goal of the record industry? Why don’t they grease my P2P company instead of try to run it into the ground, are they that scared? I bet when they went into Brianna Lahara’s bedroom (12 year old law suit victim) they found a whole crop of legally purchased CDs as well as shared music. Should a CD really even be worth $20?

    Anyway that was a bit of a rant, but the moral of the story is you can’t stop progress, and P2P progress won’t kill the recording industry or the movie industry. Did VHS kill the movie industry? I was dubbing tapes and recording off the TV at 7 years old. Did the internet put the wall street journal out of business? Did make people stop going to your local garage sale?

    Why does is the government freaking out about the 4 year old problem known as spam, but the 40 year old problem of junk paper mail killing trees and flooding my mailbox goes unmentioned? (a topic for another day that this made me think of). I’d love some feedback at my not so anonymous email:


    Comment by Brian E. -

  15. Cubes,

    You bring up a lot of good points regarding P2P’s future of new and expansive technology. What you forget are the people purporting this controversial case. Hollywood studios are afraid of their own shadows. Heaven forbid they lose out on one measley dollar. Hollywood doesn’t like to change they way they do business. As an avid fan of movies, I’ve become recently disinterested and have lost my respect for Hollywood because of what I’ve seen. It all comes down to profits and who’s controlling those profits. Simply put: POWER and MONEY.

    And we’re surprised by the Grotsker case? You’ve convinced all of us, that have read your blog, who understand the impact this case will have on our personal lives. How about trying to convince those who don’t? Why not put out flyers at all of your chain Landmark Theaters, and in more than one language? How about bringing it to the attention to your MAvs fans who come to watch the Mavs play at the American Airlines Center? Hell, try an email campaign?

    Comment by mycquester -

  16. Everything sharable will be shared with some type of P2P technology. And that includes this blog, new ideas, collaborative research, legally shared software production this one would negatively impact my company, etc. Eliminating this type of technology would be the equivalent to un-evolving the Web and the power it holds.

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  17. Drew… I was wondering when Larry’s name would appear here. He is an example of a real “freedom” fighter.

    Comment by Carrie -

  18. “I think we have forgotten that EVERY SINGLE BOOK, PICTURE and MOVIE that exists today, and has ever existed to this point in the 230 year history of this country will at one point be in the public domain. Owned, shared and enjoyed by the citizens of this country”

    I think you would benefit from reading Lawrence Lessig’s writings on copyright and “big media’s” so-far successful efforts to extend it indefinitely. Public domain has become nothing more than a quaint notion.

    Comment by Drew -

  19. The so-called entertainment industry – which, by the way, doesn’t even include most producers of quality content – are resorting to any and everything, EXCEPT reality. Historically, they eventually accept the inevitable and adopt to the new circumstances. But this time, things could be different. The proliferative nature of technological innovation might be creating problems that they simply can’t fix with their current mindset. They would have to COMPLETELY overhaul the way they approach their business, and “Hollywood” is definitely NOT interested in that. For decades, they have enjoyed the sweetest ride of all, and they don’t wanna get off anytime soon.

    Of course, this doesn’t bother us independents. We see it as a legitimate shot to become the next Hollywood. We would do a better job – period.

    Ask IBM about Microsoft. Ask Yahoo about Google. For that matter, ask Hollywood about Cuban. hehe

    Comment by Charles -

  20. All very interesting points…The Entertainment industry does need to a better job of working with P2P applications…However, if someone hacked HDNET…you would have a fit…and if you did not have a fit your lawyers would because you have to fight any known violations or risk losing your rights…At least potentially….

    A reasonable arguement can be made that the future of peer-to-peer file-sharing and related technologies will be heavily impacted by copyright law.

    Nontheless, under this approach, P2P proponents of must also be able to make out a demonstration that any limitations under DMCA will infringe or violate their development and rights; and of course that P2P applications by themselves do not violate P2P.

    There is substantial case law to support this claim (i.e. the gun industry…Guns do Not Kill people).

    However, P2P proponents must also provide that reasonable safe guards are in place to protect their claim. They fall short in this catergory because they lack sufficient safe guards to make sure that their product is used for legally acceptable activities.

    Accordingly, P2P does have great potential. Many industries would be better off by adopting the technology. Many people can make a boat load of money by implementing P2P in new industries. P2P might lose this battle. But, it won’t effectively end its progression either…

    Comment by sterling -

  21. Also, to Mark: Maybe you can pull some strings and convince the NBA to get rid of their stupid “Inside Ticket” video subscription service. Does anyone ever use it? Who wants to pay for some highlights? NBA should use internet video to their advantage, people will share links to videos of exciting plays with their friends… and interest in the league will increase. I think that will affect the BRI more than a few bucks from a ridiculous video subscription service.

    Comment by Sherwin -

  22. Those record companies and particularly the movie studios should focus on streamlining their business model instead of moping around, wasting millions of dollars on flops. These guys don’t know business. Producers, go sit in your Hollywood mansions and stop messing with P2P. You can recover a lot more profits by fixing your business operations than by going after P2P .. which will always last, and you know it. And to the RIAA, f**k off and die with your lawsuits is all that needs to be said.

    Comment by Sherwin -

  23. Re: the long tail – I wonder if that’s a relevant in P2P? Google and Amazon’s centralized search results make it easy to search on infrequent terms – all searches hit the same database. But infrequently searched phrases take longer on P2P because (presumably) fewer nodes will come back with a hit, which means more nodes have to be searched. Given the typical user’s impatience, my guess is that a search phrase near the far end of the tail is less likely to end in an actual downoad. Would make for an interesting research project – both in terms of data gathered and as a way to make P2P more efficient.

    Comment by Derek Scruggs -

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