By Jon Newton 3/28/05
MGM vs Grokster is nigh.
Will deeply vested entertainment industry interests triumph, or will Americas Supreme Court confirm what two other US courts have already decreed that p2p companies such as StreamCast (Morpheus) and Grokster cant be held liable for what users do with p2p file sharing software?
Mark Cuban told p2pnet he doesnt make predictions. But on his blog, he does state:
"It wont be a good day when high school entrepreneurs have to get a fairness opinion from a technology oriented law firm to confirm that big music or movie studios wont sue you because they can come up with an angle that makes a judge believe the technology might impact the music business."
"... EFF and others came to me and asked if I would finance the legal effort against MGM.
"I said yes."
Read on >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Let the truth be told
MGM vs Grokster
By Mark Cuban - Blog Maverick
First, let me define myself as a content owner.
I am not a technology owner. Although I have been involved in the technology business for more than 20 years, the software that I have written is long outdated. The infrastructure and integration processes I have designed and developed may still be in use, but I dont control them.
For the longest time, including when we started Broadcast.com, I saw the content business as a lose lose proposition. Then content went digital.
Thats when my eyes opened up to the ownership of content. When content had to be distributed in analog or a physical format for delivery, all distribution could be controlled by just a few gatekeeper companies. Music Labels and Movie Studios owned distribution. In both industries anyone outside the major companies were called independent , and for a good reason. They were on their own, on the outside looking in.
When content went digital, the floodgates opened. Content could be delivered digitally in thousands of different ways, and the number of methods for distribution would only expand over time. To me this meant the power of the gatekeepers would diminish and the power of independent content creators and owners would increase. With the explosion of the internet and then broadband, not only did households explode with digital content replay devices, but more importantly, consumers became comfortable with the concept of what digital was and what it meant to them. From CDs to DVDs to cellphones to email to cameras to HDTVs, in all cases the move to digital represented an improvement in quality, availability, flexibility, mobility and more. Just as I knew that digital in TV would lead to an explosion in the acceptance of HDTV over time, which is why we started HDNet and HDNet Movies (www.hd.net) the same acceptance would change how consumers bought and used any and all content.
Knowing this, my partner, Todd Wagner and I immediately began to get aggressive in the acquisition of content. Our first move was to buy Rysher Entertainment. Rysher owns among its movie library, Kingpin, Private Parts, Dear God, Hard Eight among others. In the TV world, we own Nash Bridges, Highlander, Star Search,Soldier of Fortune, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Lonesome Dove and shared interests in Hogans Heroes, Ben Casey, Walking Tall, The Great Santini and others.
I then added the Dallas Mavericks as a content play with digital implications.
We then started 2929 Productions, which has shared in various film productions including Criminal, The Jacket and GodSend.
More recently, we started HDNet Films. Our first theatrical release will be Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room, which will be released in theaters on April 22nd of this year.
We just announced that Cynthia Nixon will be starring in another feature, and are about to announce the release date for Like Blood into Water.
HDNet Productions, the production arm of HDNet, produces in original 1080i format, 15 plus hours per WEEK of content and has been doing so for the last 3 years. Much of this content we sell overseas in addition to showing on HDNet and we have every intention of taking this content and exploiting it through every digital outlet possible.
To add to the mix, we have purchased Landmark Theatres (http://www.landmarktheatres.com/). We just announced a deal with Sony, where we will take the lead in digital projection and begin the rollout of 4k Digital Projectors this summer.
Last but not least, we also own Magnolia Pictures (www.magpictures.com) . Magnolia is a theatrical distribution company that distributes not only our content around the world, but also does a great job of theatrical distribution of others content as well.
We produce in the best means available, which means that for the content we control, we produce in digital, we deliver in digital. In every way shape and form. What makes it all work as a business for today and in the futures, is that the best in digital distribution is yet to come.
There are untold number of new formats on the way. Recent additions include the UMD format on Sony PSPs, HD DVD, Blu Ray and the increasing number of extensions to PC based codecs. There are untold number of new distribution options becoming available. From satellite radio, to P2P, to net download, to hard disk delivery, to pre loading on hard drives, to new and old formats of DVDs, to cell phones, and more that we cant talk about yet. More and more of all will continue to be added, and our goal is to make the best content available in the best possible quality on every platform that becomes available.
We are a digital company that is platform agnostic. Bits are bits. We dont care how they are distributed, just that they are. We want our content to get to the customer in the way the customer wants to receive it, when they want to receive it, at a price that is of value to them. Simple business.
Unless Grokster loses to MGM in front of the Supreme Court. If Grokster loses, technological innovation might not die, but it will have such a significant price tag associated with it, it will be the domain of the big corporations only.
It wont be a good day when high school entrepreneurs have to get a fairness opinion from a technology oriented law firm to confirm that big music or movie studios wont sue you because they can come up with an angle that makes a judge believe the technology might impact the music business. It will be a sad day when American corporations start to hold their US digital innovations and inventions overseas to protect them from the RIAA, moving important jobs overseas with them.
Thats what is ahead of us if Grokster loses. Thats what happens if the RIAA is able to convince the Supreme Court of the USA that rather than the truth, which is , Software doesnt steal content, people steal content, they convince them that if it can impact the music business, it should be outlawed because somehow it will. It doesnt matter that the RIAA has been wrong about innovations and the perceived threat to their industry, EVERY SINGLE TIME. It just matters that they can spend more then everyone else on lawyers. Thats not the way it should be. So , the real reason of this blog. To let everyone know that the EFF and others came to me and asked if I would finance the legal effort against MGM. I said yes. I would provide them the money they need. So now the truth has been told. This isnt the big content companies against the technology companies. This is the big content companies, against me. Mark Cuban and my little content company. Its about our ability to use future innovations to compete vs their ability to use the courts to shut down our ability to compete. its that simple.
Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.
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