March 29, 2005

Whole Lotta Freedom Talk Goin' On

Or at least it converged today.. here in Washington DC and Silver Spring MD. I spent the day helping Greg Elin, Dwayne Hendricks and David Isenberg with the Freedom-2-Connect Conference preparations (it's David's baby). F2C starts tomorrow.. and then afterwards, we swung by Dupont Circle, where the first CopyNight meetup was converging, post Grokster hearing at the Supreme Court (check out a few photos of the morning lines of folks who didn't get tickets to watch the hearing).

Seth Schoen was there and he did attend, along with about 20 others who had see the arguments in person. He said that a few folks made it in with tickets, but not without spending the night out there to get them. Apparently, Kragen Sitaker and Beatrice Murch were no.s 2 and 3 in line, arriving at 3pm yesterday. And Seth was no. 18, arriving at 8pm. Alex Haldeman, Ed Felton's student and his new fellow blogger on Freedom-to-Tinker, made it in, but some of Ed's other students did not. Seth also said he brought a pile of betamax tapes to give to people to hold up during the hearing. And while waiting in line, he saw Jack Valenti, and someone said, go get Valenti to sign a tape! Apparently, Seth didn't want to but Annelee Newitz said she would, so Valenti looked at it, mentioned he rarely sees betamax tapes, and signed it.

Please take this next paragraph with a grain of salt.. it's what Seth told me about what he saw today.. just a quick retelling of what he mentioned an hour or so ago.. and I'm really hoping he blogs it soon.. but it's third hand. I'm only doing this because his blog is down and I thought it was interesting, but I hope after his travels that he puts it back up and tells this story himself. But for now, I urge you to read first hand accounts.

Seth told us about three things that were concerning about the questions asked by the Justices. 1. They focused on how Grokster had 'willfully blinded' themselves to what users would do, in order to create a system that would allow user's privacy about their own activities. He was concerned for other kinds of software that builds in privacy. 2. 'Bifurcation' -- where there was the old Grokster technology based upon the first Napster technology model (from 4 years ago), and then there is the second model currently in use, so the bifurcation in the case has to do with how both sides of the case agreed to separate the two phases. Apparently the justices were very confused by how the two parties could agree to such a thing. So they spent a lot of time discussing this. 3. The Justices asked a lot about 'commercially significant' uses of the technology.. this is a footnoted item in the Sony Betamax case but was taken up in a more major way in this case. The question is, is this 'sufficient to support your business.'

Seth also stayed for the case following, on cable service, saying that there was a lot of discussion about what a service is... but again, I urge the reading of first hand accounts until the transcripts come out shortly.

Posted by Mary Hodder at March 29, 2005 05:45 PM | TrackBack

The reporter from PBS Newshour said it was one of the liveliest days in court she has witnessed (between lawyers AND justices,) and with one of the longest line of spectators.

Exciting stuff!

Posted by: Alison at March 30, 2005 02:21 AM