X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
At first glance, the group of twenty-somethings gathered at a bar in New York City looked like just another bunch of young professionals enjoying themselves over happy hour. But when they peeled off their business-casual blazers, revealing “Save Betamax” T-shirts, it became clear that this was no ordinary night at the bar. Instead, it was another in a nationwide series of “CopyNight” gatherings � informal discussion groups made up of what can best be described as libertarian-oriented IP aficionados. Shouting over the din of Bob Dylan and Billy Joel songs, the New York City group gossiped about the day’s big news: the U.S. Supreme Court had just heard oral arguments in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. In that case, the justices are considering whether manufacturers of peer-to-peer file-sharing technology can be held liable for distributing software that allows users to illegally copy and distribute copyrighted music. The New York group was a lively collection of musicians, filmmakers, students, lawyers, academics and techies. Probably the most well-known person in attendance was Esther Dyson, the prominent technology consultant and commentator. Despite their diverse backgrounds, just about everyone present that night sided with Grokster and argued in favor of less restrictive copyright laws. CopyNight tries to use casual social events to foster discussion about copyright, says David Alpert, a product manager at Google and a co-founder of the CopyNight concept. “Helping people build social networks around values that matter to them gets people involved,” he says. On the night of oral arguments in Grokster, CopyNight groups met at bars in San Francisco, Santa Monica, Raleigh, Austin, Seattle, Providence and Washington, D.C. CopyNight is only one of a growing number of IP-focused grassroots organizations that often take their cues from the likes of Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig and policy organizations like San Francisco’s Electronic Frontier Foundation. Not surprisingly, some of the most active organizing has been happening on college campuses. Over the past two years, students at 14 universities � from Colby College in Maine to UC-Santa Cruz � have started “free culture” groups. After all, a July 2003 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that 72 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds pay little or no attention to copyright issues when it comes to downloading music. The so-called free culture movement grew out of a lawsuit that Nelson Pavlosky and Luke Smith, two students at Swarthmore College, won in 2004 against Diebold Election Systems. Pavlosky and Smith, members of their school’s free culture group, posted online Diebold internal memos, which suggested that the company knew about flaws in its voting machines. In a cease-and-desist letter sent to Swarthmore’s Internet service provider, lawyers for Diebold said the ISP would not be liable for copyright infringement under safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as long as it removed the posting. In a federal suit filed in California, the students sought a judicial declaration that they didn’t infringe any copyrights, an injunction against future lawsuits and monetary damages. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ordered Diebold to pay attorneys’ fees but, because Diebold promised not to sue, Fogel concluded that the students’ other requests were moot. Since then, free culture groups around the country have weighed in on other IP-related issues, including “save the iPod” campaigns aimed against proposed federal legislation that would hold technology companies responsible for products that encourage copyright infringement. While the issue has caught on in some circles, John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, doubts that IP will take on the trappings of, say, the civil rights or environmental movements. Free culture activists argue for greater balance between copyright holders and users, an argument not so easily encapsulated in emotional sound bites. “It’s hard to make an argument against clean water,” says Palfrey. “The IP debate is just a little more subtle.” Lisa Lerer is a reporter for IP Law & Business, an ALM publication affiliated with IP magazine.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.