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Silicon Valley: Supreme Court "Doesn't Know Jack"

Editorial or news? I get mixed signals when I read SiliconValley.com's analysis of today's MGM vs Grokster decision. You'd think the author of that blog, John Paczkowski, had an interest in staying on the good side of the VC community or something.

Agreed, the study is decidedly non-alarmist in tone, and does conclude that the impact of file sharing on the music industry is unclear. However, it appears the Court ruled that just knowing about noninfringing uses of P2P wasn't enough to offset actively encouraging people to steal files. Lots of us - Grokster, Streamcast and Paczkowski included - knew what kind of reputation Napster had. So after Napster went down, why did some marketing genius at Grokster decided to promote the service as a Napster alternative?

The American way of life includes an approach to English law that provides incentives for entrepreneurs. Paczkowski and I have won the genetic lottery, living in a time and place of tremendous opportunity. Value is created by understanding how many forces, including regulatory ire, factor in. You may be upset that the guys who manufacture air bags for autos basically won a license to mint money when laws to mandate air bags went into effect. But to someone's credit, someone saw a need, took some risk, and the rest is history.

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. Maybe I should be egging authors like Paczkowski on, in hopes that more people will come to the wrong conclusion. I'm sure that's exactly what Shawn Fanning, Jordan Mendelson and Ron Conway are doing at this red hot moment.

Congratulations, guys. You learned, and you're in a far better place for all that.

Link: FTC P2P Study (Adobe Acrobat required)


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