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

Sep 02, 2000, 16:13 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Adam Liptak)

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"'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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