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I am a neolibertarian minded individual who feels that freedom and individual rights take precedence over the wants of government. I believe government exists to serve the people and not to protect us from ourselves. I am an advocate for private firearms ownership, smaller government, reduced taxes and freedom to live your life however you choose, providing you do not directly hurt others.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Supreme Court Justices Ponder File Sharing

The title link is to an article on the U.S. Supreme court considering the case of MGM v. Grokster/Streamcast. Basically, content publishers want the government to shut down peer to peer file sharing. The Supreme Court is stuck with deciding whether or not peer to peer technology is "bad" because of how it facilitates the illegal distribution of copy righted material. Since this technology can be used to disseminate open source non-copyrighted files, it has legitimate uses and is not exclusively a tool for illegal piracy.

This case has the potential to change how our legal system views tools that can be put to both good and bad purposes. VCRs, cassette recorders, CD burners,
DVD burners, photocopiers, printing presses, guns, knives, matches and all sorts of things can be used for both lawful and unlawful purposes. I fervently hope that they rule in favor of the file sharing technology, as I think it would be unconscionable to attempt to crush any technology or tool that has legitimate legal uses, even if it also has potentially illegal applications.

In support of the music industry (most likely the artists), the justices agreed that file-sharing services are hurting the industry and allowing users to violate copyright laws.
Cases like these really make me wish that the Supreme Court Justices were not able to sit on the bench for the rest of their lives. I find it hard to believe that all of the Justices can grasp the full potential of this technology, given that many of them lived most of their lives before personal computers and digital files existed.

I understand that these are bright legal minds considering issues of law, but I have my doubts that they are really qualified to judge technology that they are unlikely to have used and unlikely to consider a part of their contemporary culture. I truly hope that their lack of experience with this technology does not cause them to dismiss its positive value when they eventually rule on this case.

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