The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing arguments tomorrow in MGM vs. Grokster, which makes peer to peer software that lets internet users share songs and other files. It's seen as the most important copyright case since the 1984 Sony Betamax decision. The New York Times takes a surprisingly capitalistic position on it.
The battle over online music piracy is usually presented as David versus Goliath: the poor student in his dorm hunted down by a music conglomerate. It is easy, in that matchup, to side with the student. But when the Supreme Court takes up the issue this week, we hope it considers another party to the dispute: individual creators of music, movies and books, who need to keep getting paid if they are going to keep creating. If their work is suddenly made "free," all of society is likely to suffer.The Betamax case favored Sony, allowing the company to sell its home video recorders over Hollywood's objections that the technology would be used to illegally copy movies.