Even though I am sympathetic to the concept of file sharing, think privacy and the Constitution are more important than protecting the recording industry's failing business model, and think the RIAA's tactics are ill-advised to the point of insanity, I also do not see the file sharing services as standing upon some pristine high moral ground. They are clearly making a profit from the illegal exchange of copyrighted material.
While there are substantial legitimate uses of P2P, including many not even thought of yet, and there is a wealth of material being traded on the systems that is authorized, EVERYONE knows the vast majority of the traffic on their systems is illegitimate and transgressive. I agree that legally, the uncentralized systems, as "mere" conduits and facilitators and not direct contributors to infringement, should not be held legally liable for the actions of their customers and be shut down, but that does not mean they have moral culpability in the current situation.
With all of that in mind, this announcement piques my curiosity:
- File-Sharing Trade Group to Announce Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct; Demand That Congress Stop Record Industry Abuses
WASHINGTON - P2P United, the newly-formed Peer-to-Peer industry trade association, together with the CEOs and COOs of some of the world's most popular file-sharing web sites, will announce the adoption of a File-Sharing Industry Code of Conduct at a news conference Monday, September 29, 2003 at the National Press Club Murrow Room at 10:15 AM. .... P2P and the CEOs are also expected to demand Congressional action to resolve differences between Internet file-sharers and the recording and film industries and to halt record industry lawsuit abuses.
WHO: Participants will include Wayne Rosso, President, Grokster, LTD (providers of Grokster.com); Michael Weiss, CEO, StreamCast Networks, Inc (providers of Morpheus.com); Greg Bildson, CTO and COO, Lime Wire, LLC (providers of Limewire.com); Adam Eisgrau, Executive Director, P2P United and Vice President, Flanagan Consulting, LLC; and others.
I am very curious as to what this "Voluntary Industry Code of Conduct" will entail.