Coalition of willing

MPAA, RIAA field army for P2P court battle

WASHINGTON — The Motion Picture Assn. of America and the Recording Industry Assn. of America have emphasized support for innovations while trying to protect intellectual property rights.

“We are not opposed to P2P technology or the use of it,” said attorney Don Verrilli at a joint MPAA-RIAA news conference Tuesday. “We are opposed to the abuse of it.”

Verrilli said “about 20” others that shared those concerns filed friend-of-the-court briefs Monday with the Supreme Court arguing for a reversal of an appeals court ruling that refused to hold peer-to-peer Internet sites liable for copyright infringement by site users.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in March.

MPAA, RIAA and the National Music Publishers Assn. are plaintiffs in the case. The defendants are Grokster and StreamCast, which operate file-sharing networks.

Many of the 20 filing briefs this week had joined the plaintiffs last November in their petition for the Supreme Court to review the ruling.

Grokster, StreamCast and their supporters have claimed that the plaintiffs are fundamentally against technological innovation. “Stopping Grokster-like businesses is no threat to innovation, anymore than stopping identity theft or credit card fraud stifles innovation,” said Theodore Olson, former Solicitor General of the U.S.

Verrilli and others claimed that the 1984 Supreme Court decision in the Sony Betamax video recorder case is in their favor.

The plaintiffs have alleged that as much as 90% of the activity on Grokster and StreamCast involves illegal file sharing.

“This isn’t about entertainment,” said Adam Eisgrau, executive director of P2P United, a trade association for the file-sharing industry. “This is about whether we should have a legal standard that encourages technological innovation, or chills it.”