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Making the case against Grokster

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Suggesting the studios do not embrace technology, as you do in your March 23 editorial “High Noon for P2P,” rewrites a history of profound change since the last major case Hollywood argued before the Supreme Court. We did not simply “learn to live” with Betamax, we led the charge creating its follow-on, the DVD. In fact, MPAA has an entire department dedicated to technology and applying the best technology offers to the industry.

Few of 2005’s movies would exist if limited to the technology of 1984, and we know that to make the movies viewers will want to see in 2025 — whether in theaters, on DVD or handheld player or via some device or mechanism still a sketch on a notepad — we have to embrace technological innovation, and we do.

That is not the issue at dispute in Grokster. We are not out to shut down the makers of P2P; we are not out to throttle technology. We are, however, determined to hold liable for copyright infringement those who set up P2P networks — or use other technology or means, for that matter — for the express intent of distributing, without proper authorization, the private property of the studios. It is called stealing.

Moreover, someone may, as you prod, adapt P2P for content distribution, legally. Already, there are plenty of legal ways to get movies online; CinemaNow and MovieLink are two examples. But these legal companies will not succeed if they are forced to compete against the likes of Grokster. We can co-exist with P2P, but not with thieves. We can and will compete with highly efficient distribution; we cannot compete with stealing.

At a fundamental level, those who came up with P2P and those who come up with the movies our studios produce share common cause. Both were born of ideas — intellectual property, content, call it what you will. No matter what you call it, protecting the creator’s rights is fundamental to our free market economy, and that has served this country extraordinarily well, gadget makers and movie makers alike.

Finally, the complexities of intricate legal and technical arguments and issues at play in Grokster boil down to simplicity — con artists or artist, intellectual property protection or Internet piracy — not a 21st-century redux of silent films or talkies.

Dan Glickman

president/chief executive officer

Motion Picture Assn. of America

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