By Jon Newton 4/9/05
StreamCast Networks, owner of the Morpheus p2p application, is one of the two principal defendants in what should more properly be called Grokster / Morpheus vs the International Entertainment Industries.
Mike Weiss runs StreamCast and, "if we win, so do America and its citizens," he says. "That’s how big a case this is."
Below, he gives p2pnet his perspective on things.
p2pnet: Do you think G v MGM will lead to a landmark decision, or will it simply be another exercise in which the lawyers will be the only winners?
Weiss: It's unfortunate that the legal (and political) system tilts in favor of the powerful and wealthy in this country. The copyright cartel certainly expected us to roll over the way many of our predecessors did when faced with an overwhelming force and insurmountable odds. But we didn’t. We hung in there and fought for what we thought was right. We took the fight to the highest court in the land. This blows the cartel’s theory that p2p file sharing companies are thieves that lurk in the shadows.
A ruling in favor of technology against the overreaching efforts of the copyright cartel will absolutely be a landmark decision. It will reaffirm the principles set forth in the 1984 Sony Betamax decision and allow technological innovation in this country to continue to flourish for the next 20 years, just as the Betamax decision paved the way for the last 20 years of innovation. That’s why you saw major tech titans like Intel, Verizon and the Consumer Electronic Association, among others, step up to support our position. And in support of protecting the evolution of innovation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation came to our aid to help augment our legal team and, as you've read, individual contributors like Mark Cuban, also pitched in at the end.
This was a costly battle for our company. We’ve had to generate revenues in ways that weren't popular with our users, and rely on the help of others just to stay in the fight. Against all odds, we beat the cartel in the lower Federal Court and beat them again in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. They were stunned. A victory at the Supreme Court will not only help to secure our future, and the future of other p2p developers in this country, it will also ensure that America maintains its technological leadership and force the cartel to embrace the change that the digital revolution is imposing on them.
In the end, if we win, so do America and its citizens. That’s how big a case this is.
We’ve taken a pounding, but we’ve stayed in the fight because we believed in what we were doing and our right to do it. But this fight has just begun. If we prevail, you know the cartels will step up their efforts in Congress in an attempt to pass laws to turn back the clock. That's one reason why StreamCast co-founded P2P United with other industry leaders. We’ll need a lot of help from our users to prevail with Congress…they're suppose to be the ‘voice of the people’…so let’s be sure they hear that voice.
p2pnet: In the unlikely event that this time around, the ruling goes against p2p, what will StreamCast do?
Weiss: The bigger question is what will the future of the tech industry be in America? If the entertainment industry succeeds, are we going to live in a society where every file is fingerprinted, every user tagged, every search monitored and every result filtered? Let’s hope that it won’t come down to this!
p2pnet: Have you been approached by any of the labels about the possibility of StreamCast in some way becoming involved with them, or using their product?
Weiss: We've had an open door policy with every content provider and artist. We think there are solutions where everyone gets paid and the public still benefits. Certainly, the solutions we propose are a lot better than trying to litigate the world back to the stone ages. P2p file sharing is out of the bottle and it's never going back in. Unfortunately, the cartels won’t sit down and talk unless we agree to redesign Morpheus to give them control, and in the process take five steps backwards. Others may have fallen into desperation by playing that game, but StreamCast won’t. In the end, a victory for us at the Supreme Court may get the entertainment industry to embrace reality and work together with us to find more sensible solutions. But until we win, unless they admit to themselves that they're facing a loosing battle, I just don’t see them coming to the table.
p2pnet: Do you think applications such as Mashboxx are the way of the future? If not, why not?
Weiss: I am afraid that Mashboxx and SnoCap are the way to an Orwellian future… a society where every file is fingerprinted, every user tagged, every search monitored and every result filtered. God save us.
p2pnet: Have you ever had an offer from any of the labels to buy you out?
Weiss: No. It seems they would rather drive us out of existence
p2pnet: If the decision goes against entertainment industry, do you expect to hear from it vis-à-vis the mending of fences?
Weiss: It really depends on the decision. I've been around for a long enough time to understand that today’s enemies can become tomorrow’s partners. I find myself in favor of finding solutions that benefit consumers and if we can do that together, then everyone wins.
p2pnet: As a senior member of the commercial p2p companies, what advice would you give to anyone thinking of getting into the p2p application arena?
Weiss: Learn from what you see is happening today. Get active in this industry by joining P2P United because even though we compete with each other, we have shared interests. We can build a stronger industry by working together.
p2pnet: Given that p2p and file sharing will survive whatever the industry does or doesn't do, what in your view is the wave of the future?
Weiss: There are two paths. Reminds me of a certain movie where you can take either the red pill or the blue pill. With one, you enter into a new reality and with the other, you go down a dark path - perhaps one where every user is tagged and every search is monitored.
p2pnet: How are things going with the new Morpheus and how is the addition of BitTorrent affecting it?
Weiss: What’s really exiting at Morpheus is the new Morpheus 5.0 - still
about a month away. It'll include an even better implementation of Bit Torrent
searching. Our Morpheus 4 series is at the end of its product life cycle - I
hope users will enjoy the many advancements that are being developed for M5.
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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