MPAA braces for P2P ruling

Court will issue a decision by the end of the month

WASHINGTON — In what sounded like preparation for a possible loss in the upcoming Supreme Court decision on peer-to-peer file-sharing, Motion Picture Assn. of America topper Dan Glickman warned a luncheon gathering of dire consequences if copyrighted material is not adequately protected in the digital age.

“Protecting content from (Internet) theft is absolutely vital for the survival of the entertainment industry,” Glickman said Tuesday to the Progress & Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group promoting free markets, property rights and minimal regulation.

Referring to the Grokster case — the lawsuit the entertainment industry brought against certain P2P services, arguing they should be held responsible for copyright infringement committed by their users — Glickman said an important and fundamental question lies before the court: “Will we protect free markets, or tear them down and let black marketers prosper?”

The court will issue a decision by the end of the month.

“P2P services like (defendants) Grokster and Kazaa facilitate infringement on a massive, global scale,” Glickman said. “They not only condone but encourage rampant infringing.”

If Grokster, Kazaa and others like them are not reined in, Glickman continued, “There will be a radical restructuring of the content industry. The most high-quality content will be produced less and less frequently.”

“Ray” helmer Taylor Hackford made the same argument to Congress last month, saying illegal online file-sharing is threatening to destroy Hollywood.

Asked how he expects the court to rule, Glickman said, “I’m optimistic it’ll turn out well for us. But if not, we have other strategies.”

Those strategies include continuing selective lawsuits against illegal movie downloaders and efforts to educate Internet users, particularly younger ones, that such file-sharing is wrong morally and ethically as well as legally.

Glickman also said the MPAA would pursue help from Congress in the event of an adverse decision. Observers expect the side that comes out a loser from the Supreme Court ruling will try to convince Capitol Hill to intervene on its behalf.

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