Larry Lessig: Grokster Decision Will Chill Innovation

Rob Hof

Stanford law professor Larry Lessig knows what he's talking about when it comes to the collision of technology and intellectual property law. Today, the day after the Supreme Court essentially ruled the file-sharing services such as Grokster aren't protected from lawsuits by copyright holders whose material is traded on their networks, I talked with him about the decision. The interview is here on BWOnline, but here's a taste of what he had to say about the impact of the decision on innovation:

"By making it a process that goes through the courts, you’ve just increased the legal uncertainty around innovation substantially and created great opportunities to defeat legitimate competition. You’ve shifted an enormous amount of power to those who oppose new types of competitive technologies. Even if in the end, you as the innovator are right, you still spent your money on lawyers instead of on marketing or a new technology."

"Already, money has shifted into places which will avoid any conflict with the copyright holders. Why buy a lawsuit when you can buy a new innovation that doesn’t get you a lawsuit? And you don’t even see it; you don’t even know what you don’t get, because people are afraid."

"It might take 10 years of litigation to get a clear sense of this. That’s 10 years of chilled innovation."

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