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Silent tech majority invites Mickey Mouse to poison P2P

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Instead, you'll actually find that the Business Software Alliance (BSA) sided with the movie studios and record labels in its brief. That means Microsoft, Apple, Dell, HP, IBM and Cisco indirectly tossed their lot in with Mickey Mouse. (Intel is a member of the BSA too and seems to be playing both sides.)

The BSA basically makes a case for DRM (digital rights management) makers, saying this type of control technology will likely be the only way truly to protect content in a digital age. No surprise there, since the BSA represents DRM makers. In addition, the software vendors urge the high court to be sure to see if the P2P software companies had direct infringement in mind when they created their applications. If so, they should be punished - big time. That's what the BSA does to software pirates.

To its credit though, the BSA comes out especially hard against altering Sony, putting the organization in line with the other pro-Grokster, pro-innovation tech firms.

"Sony Betamax established a fair balance between providers and users of multi-use and general purpose products and technologies that are capable of substantial non-infringing uses, on the one hand, and copyright owners seeking to protect their works, on the other," the BSA wrote (PDF). "Sony Betamax also provides a clear and predictable test upon which BSA members and many others like them have for more than two decades relied in designing, manufacturing, advertising and distributing their technologies."

Other Rodent defenders include "legal" online media shops such as Napster, Movielink, CinemaNow and MusicNet. DRM maker Macrovision also chimed in along with the usual professors, lawyers, and economists.

(You can find a full list of the Pros and Foes here.)

Strange bedfellows

There is a depressing mood hanging over this whole mess. In this time of Bushness, you can't help but feel that the Supreme Court will overturn Sony and put some temporary power back in the hands of the dinosaurs. "Let the eagles soar," as Ashcroft liked to sing. The Bushies have already said they'd prefer to see these P2P culprits be put down. We're not quite sure how the Republicans ended up siding with effete, drug addled Hollywood types. But they did.

And then you have this monster of a technology industry - the engine of America's growth - that can barely muster a few words in its own defense. The IT crowd - other than Microsoft and to some degree Intel - has never been big on Washington; but come on. Are these companies that produce the life blood of our economy really going to be pushed around by a stuffed mouse with buttons and helium balloon shoved down his throat? Only one company had an opinion all its own on the matter? Shame.

It's not even just lack of voice in the briefs that is depressing. The big whig vendor brass has been silent on the matter. No one has had the guts to call out Hollywood for the ancients they are. No major company been smart enough to take a strong, public stand on P2P. That McNealy guy at Sun usually has a lot to say. Instead, they've twiddled their thumbs as the RIAA sued your children, grandparents and naval cadets.

If the media moguls - the pigopolists - win, then the tech vendors should tuck their tales between their assess and waddle off without a sound. No sense whimpering on the way out if you didn't roar on the way in.

Lucky for the vendors, the pigopolists can't win this one in the long run. The digital age started too many years ago to bottle it up now.

Let's see how Apple likes it though when iPod sales are halted for a few years as the courts decide how legitimate the device really is. Bite your tongue, Steve. ®

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