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3/30/2005
09:58 AM
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Conflicted Over File Sharing

As a one-time freelance writer, I pocketed a few extra bucks from the intellectual property I created. The law recognizes that my writings had some financial value, and provided protection against their unauthorized use.

As a one-time freelance writer, I pocketed a few extra bucks from the intellectual property I created. The law recognizes that my writings had some financial value, and provided protection against their unauthorized use.Arguments forwarded in the Supreme Court Tuesday by the entertainment industry in the Grokster case to protect its intellectual property from theft by consumers who use technology hit home. Intellectual property has value as much as tangible property, and its creators should receive the same protections.

Yet, I'm conflicted over file-sharing lawsuits. I've spent the past two decades covering business and technology, and I marvel at the innovations that have occurred and changed our lives for the better. I fear a decision by the high court in favor of the entertainment industry could stifle future innovations.

Rarely do I agree with Justice Antonin Scalia, but from the bench during arguments, he expressed his concern that legitimate uses of a new technology could be hampered if threats of copyright-infringement suits hover over innovators. "What I worry about is a suit right out of the box," Scalia said. "Do you give a company a couple of years to show substantial noninfringement?"

I'd say that's a good idea.

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