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NYTimes: Is Litigation The Best Way To Tame New Technology?

“‘The growing and dangerous intrusion of this new technology,’
Jack Valenti said, threatens an entire industry’s ‘economic
vitality and future security.’ Mr. Valenti, the president of the
Motion Picture Association of America, was testifying before the
House Judiciary Committee, and he was ready for a rhetorical
rumble. The new technology, he said, ‘is to the American film
producer and the American public as the Boston Strangler is to the
woman alone….'”

“But the woman in this instance survived, and even flourished.
‘It is fair to say,’ declared Charles S. Sims, a lawyer at
Proskauer Rose who represents the industry in Internet-related
litigations, ‘that as things worked out, the studios did not lose
control of their products’ through home taping on VCR’s.”

“Some hear an echo of Mr. Valenti’s doom-saying in the
entertainment industry’s recent lawsuits against Web sites that
allow users to swap music and movies and to decrypt DVD’s. In July,
Marilyn H. Patel, a federal judge in San Francisco, effectively
signed a death warrant for Napster, a Web site through which users
share music files. Asserting that it had ‘contributed to illegal
copying on a scale that is without precedent,’ she said: ‘Any
destruction of Napster Inc. by a preliminary injunction is
speculative compared to the statistical evidence of massive,
unauthorized downloading and uploading of plaintiffs’ copyrighted
works — as many as 10,000 files per second, by defendant’s own
admission.'”

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