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27 June 2005

Morpheus/Grokster Senate Ruling Explained

According to the BBC, file-sharing has suffered a major defeat as a result of a US Supreme Court ruling that file-sharing companies are to blame for what users do with their software.

This, of course, is utter nonsense and The Antagonist will explain forthwith but first needs to get this little lot out of the system and into the ether... following the logic of this judgement, how about suing Microsoft for making the operating system on which the file-sharing software runs? Or maybe Cisco and other communications companies for helping build the networks across which all this data travels? What about Charles Babbage? Nobody's sued him yet, the bastard, and he started all this back in the 18th century. He might be dead but that hasn't stopped them before. Then we could sue the gun and weapons manufacturers for what individuals and governments who purchase their products then go on to do with them.

Obviously, holding governments to account for anything - even killing thousands of people on the basis of no evidence at all - will never happen and so is completely non-sensical, just like the notions of suing Microsoft, Cisco and dear old Mr Babbage. By virtue of something known as the logical extension, the senate ruling also renders itself immediately null and void and disappears in a puff of logic.

Anyway, back to the point... The headline is entirely misleading and filesharing has not suffered any form of setback at all. What has suffered, however, are perfectly legal file-sharing services that aren't approved by the international media conglomerates, i.e. other businesses who had the foresight to get in on making money from P2P first.

The story relates to the legal case of big business versus Streamcast Networks - the makers of the Grokster and Morpheus filesharing software. Streamcast happened to achieve what the media industry had consistently failed to achieve and managed to generate revenue streams from file-sharing networks. That Streamcast beat the international media companies to the job of so doing is the bugbear of big business and the reasoning behind the legal action.

Initially media companies started victimising a handful of individuals who were, are, and will never be anything more than an insignificant statistic in an ever-growing network of half-a-billion peers. When that tactic failed miserably in the only way it ever could and numbers of peer-to-peer users continued to increase dramatically, the media companies set their sites on other targets. One of these targets is any company that had the foresight of trying to generate media revenue streams from the Internet, a medium and problem that Sony executives themselves admitted they were 'shit scared' of back in 1998 and still failed to address.

So what we have is a worldwide media industry that is watching its artificially maintained empire collapse and crumble as it lashes out at anyone and everyone in a desperate attempt to save something that doesn't exist in the form that it once did.

The Antagonist hates to be the one to open anyone's eyes to anything but the fundamental essence of business in the free markets that man created so many rules to keep 'free', is one of cut-throat competition. Business across all industries has consistently shown that where profits are concerned anything goes and staying one step ahead of the competition is all that matters.

So when the same multi-national industries who preach the virtues of free-markets have to resort to suing competitors who have been more competitive than themselves, the practice can only be seen for what it is, entirely anti-competitive and against the nature of anything that vaguely resembles a free-market at all. You can't have it both ways. That the Senate appears to support this anti-competitive and restrictive practice should tell us all we need to know about them too.

And, on that note, The Antagonist would like to recommend that the media industries dedicate at least a small portion of their seemingly limitless legal funds to the purchase of a copy of Dale Carnegie's excellent book, 'How To Win Friends and Influence People'. If, however, the coffers are running a little low owing to the free-market economy that keeps the coffers of everyone else in the world a little low, they could always try the peer-to-peer networks they spend so long scouring and scratching their increasingly more furrowed brows at.

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