This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Media Unspun email newsletter and is Copyright 2002 by Keith Dawson.
M E D I A   U N S P U N
No File-Swapping, Matey!

"Treasure Planet" is tanking at the box office, and the entertainment industry hopes it's not the only pirate ship going under. The record industry and movie studios got together in court yesterday to try to shut down the file-sharing services Morpheus and Grokster. A Los Angeles District Court judge listened to two hours of he-said/she-said as both sides sought to obtain summary judgement in their favor and announced that he will rule later on. Several reporters mentioned the judge's intention to issue a "speaking order," which's scribe helpfully defined as a sort of rough draft decision.

The LA Times's scribe did a good job of untangling the maze of companies involved in the suit. The defendants, Streamcast and Grokster, are the parent companies of the Morpheus and Grokster file-sharing services. Both use variants of the same software employed in the much larger Kazaa network. The record and film companies also want to shut down Kazaa's parent company Sharman Networks, and argued yesterday that Sharman should be added as a defendant.'s story previewing the hearing explained that Sharman is headquartered in Australia and incorporated in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, and "has tried to keep business contact with the United States to a minimum" to minimize its legal risk.

Only two news reports that Unspun reviewed used the P-word in their headlines or stories. Most reporters referred to the defendants' users' activities as "file trading," "music sharing," or "file swapping," all of which sound pretty innocuous. "Piracy" conjures images of killing people on the high seas. Unspun suspects that much of the progress that Hollywood and the record companies have made against file sharing can be traced to their success in slapping such a loaded label on their opponents, and making it stick. - Keith Dawson

File-traders, studios spar in court

Judge Delays Ruling in File-Swapping Case (L.A. Times)

No ruling on Net piracy claims (CBS MarketWatch)

Judge asked to shut down Morpheus, Grokster services

Federal judge hears arguments in online file-sharing case (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, AP)

Scuttling the pirates