Billionaire backs P2P firm's battle with Hollywood

Mickey Mouse told to suck on a Cuban

Technology entrepreneur, Dallas Mavericks owner, billionaire, blogger and sometime blowhard Mark Cuban has pledged to finance P2P software maker Grokster's legal war with the major record labels and movie studios.

The Supreme Court tomorrow will hear arguments surrounding Grokster and StreamCast's dispute with the media companies. Hollywood is hoping the high court will overturn two lower court decisions that said makers of decentralized P2P software cannot be held liable for users who trade copyrighted files. Cuban, who owns movie theaters and the rights to numerous TV shows and movies, has gone against his peers by saying P2P software should have a chance to thrive.

"We are a digital company that is platform agnostic," Cuban wrote on his blog. "Bits are bits. We dont care how they are distributed, just that they are. We want our content to get to the customer in the way the customer wants to receive it, when they want to receive it, at a price that is of value to them. Simple business.

"Unless Grokster loses to MGM in front of the Supreme Court. If Grokster loses, technological innovation might not die, but it will have such a significant price tag associated with it, it will be the domain of the big corporations only."

Hollywood is not only trying to shut down P2P software makers, but it's also trying to overturn an old Supreme Court decision that made VCRs and the like legal. It's this particular threat against devices that could potentially lead to the infringement of content copyrights that has many technology advocates up in arms.

"It will be a sad day when American corporations start to hold their US digital innovations and inventions overseas to protect them from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), moving important jobs overseas with them," Cuban wrote. "Thats what happens if the RIAA is able to convince the Supreme Court of the USA that rather than the truth, which is, Software doesnt steal content, people steal content, they convince them that if it can impact the music business, it should be outlawed because somehow it will.'

With that in mind, Cuban vowed to fund the EFF's (Electronic Frontier Foundation) defense of Grokster.

As always, Cuban was modest about his gesture and hatred of punctuation.

"This is the big content companies, against me. Mark Cuban and my little content company."

It's not entirely clear what Cuban will be paying for, since his grand move came just two days before the oral arguments - at publicity's height. Perhaps he'll be covering the Tuesday morning coffee and lunch of the EFF staffers involved. Here's hoping the funds are actually more substantial and cover some back costs. ®

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