P2P Technology Is No Crime

Movie and music execs want technology outlawed because it enables people to swap copyrighted material. But punishing vendors for developing new technology is the real crime.

April 7, 2005

1 Min Read
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Movie and recording makers, among others, say P2P is having a devastating impact on their businesses, and their industries will never be the same if file-sharing technology is allowed to stand. But isn't that what innovation is all about--changing the way industries work? As Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out during the Supreme Court hearing, the printing press and the photocopier created similar upheavals in their day, yet the market for books and other printed materials today is bigger than ever.

In 1982, the Supreme Court heard a case against Sony in which film and television producers alleged that the Betamax VCR was a threat to TV broadcasters and movie producers nationwide because it let users tape copyrighted material. "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone," said Jack Valenti, then president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Well, jump back, Jack. The VCR turned out to be one of the best friends the movie industry ever had. The same will be true of P2P technology, if the Supreme Court upholds its legality and the recording industry stops resisting and starts making it easier to buy and download files legally. As most IT managers already know, P2P may be a pain, but it's here to stay--and the people who develop it should be praised, not punished.

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