The unanimous Supreme Court decision holding in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios et. al. v. Grokster Ltd. et. al. that file-sharing networks may be held liable for copyright infringements claimed by studios and labels is a pretty clear message that the intellectual property status quo will be in place for a long, long time to come. Okay, so medieval ideas—that is, from the hallowed Republican 1950s—prevail.
What to do? Well, first off, the fact the Supremes have ruled for the studios and labels does not mean that anyone else has to operate like they do. So, let’s just ignore the studios and start new media distribution systems that route around them. Let’s not be dogmatic, encouraging all sorts of businesses built on content, from free to fee.
The court has ruled, so let’s move on. Artists should consider going around the labels; the only way to change the music industry and the movie industry is to compete with them, so let’s go.
We should not think of this as just two competing monocultures, the free versus the fee. Let’s aim for a diverse ecosystem of business models and let the energy of artists and profitability be the measures we use to describe success going forward. In other words, don’t interpret this as a “loss,” but as a starting point.