Perhaps as soon as this week, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the future of file swapping, in one of the most closely watched legal battles of the year.
With implications that could ripple from Hollywood studio gates to executive suites of the biggest Silicon Valley companies, the case has drawn an impressive list of participants. Groups ranging from state attorneys general to the Christian Coalition all have weighed in, promising near-apocalyptic consequences if the court ignores their advice.
At issue is how much responsibility technology companies have for the actions of customers who use products to break copyright laws. Peer-to-peer file-swapping is the heart of the issue, but the court is addressing a delicate legal balance between copyright interests and technological progress that has lasted for two decades.
The court did not rule on the issue Monday morning, one of only a few days left in the month during which it is scheduled to release decisions. The next day slated for major rulings is Thursday.
The justices are apparently torn on this issue according to a statement by Justice Anthony Kennedy in which he said:
If companies can deliberately turn a blind eye to piracy, then “unlawfully expropriated property can be used…as part of the startup capital for (a) product,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy. “From an economic standpoint and a legal standpoint, that sounds wrong to me.”
I understand what he’s saying, but you don’t take citizen’s rights away because you can’t come to terms with how to address this issue.