Murrel. Org Updated 6/27/2005  

  3 Recent Supreme Court Rulings
   June 27, 2005

Today (June 27) the Supreme Court handed down 2 rulings that and added the decision last week regarding eminent domain and private property, greatly disturbed me.

Today's two decisions, reversing Grokster and determining that Cable is not a common carrier, hurt American technology and our ability to compete in the world. last week's decision takes your private property and gives it to local government to do with as they please. All are victories for big businesses over the rights of individuals and small entrapreneurs.

The first decision last week was in support of local governement's right to use eminent domain to take property and give it to a developer. Previously eminent domain was only available to local government for projects which were for public use. Now it can be taken for private projects which do no more than than make a few developers rich while playing muscial chairs with local retail. When retail plays musical chairs usually its national or regional chain that winds up with a chair and the local independtly owned retail outlet that loses out.

Today's ruling that cable was not a common carrier means that independent Internet and providers of other networking services have no right to use cable networks which are created and licensed by local governments for monopoly use of the local cable franchisee. Such a ruling would not be so harmful to independent vendors except that the FCC had already determined that future Internet competiton for sales of services to the public should be among cable, telephone & wireless providers.

This determination disenfranchised many smaller Internet Service Providers (ISP) leaving them only the quickly obsoleting dialup services. The cable company now owns cable and don;t have to let their network be resold by small ISPs. The telcos now own the phone lines and don't have to let their DSL networks be resold by small ISPs.Least we shake our head and turn our backs on the small ISPs we should remember that they arose to create the Internet industry in 1995 when the Internet first allowed commercial access sales. Had the independent ISPs not been able to resell Internet over public phone lines and left the telcos in charge of the Internet, we would all still be paying $2.95 per hour for our habit and there would be no development of high speed access, the web or numerous additional mainstays of today's Internet experience (Goole, Yahoo, etc). The small independent ISPs

Today's other ruling about the Grokster case has opened up new potential liability that will chill technical innovation. The ruling in favor of the entertainment industry marks Grokster as possible liable for the uses of the people who use their software. By including inducement in copyright cases, there is now another worry for those would develop any new technology. If the new technology is used for something illegal, the technology's developer may be responsible legally for any losses accompanied by its illegal use.

Since the end of WWII the US economical advantage has been it's world wide technological dominance. This ruling threatens our dominance by making it more expensive to develop new technology here. The ruling has a number of issues which are covered more than adequately in the below links - I hope you will read them. But many of the technological advances have been made by individuals and small software companies who could not afford the risk the new rules put in place.

All three of these rulings put a gun to the head of the little guy, whether he is the small entraprenueral software and Interent developer or just a small business owner or home owner. A significant change in America will result and I don't like it.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.

Court overturns ruling requiring cable companies to open up high-speed Internet lines to rivals.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules against file-sharing service Grokster in a closely watched piracy case.

Eric Goldman's Grokster ruling roundup

Supreme Court Sows Uncertainty - What is "Inducement"?

Fred von Lohmann on How to Read Grokster (Again)

Grokster Q & A with Gigi Sohn

Supreme Court Ruling Will Chill Technology Innovation

Ed Felton on the Grokster Decision

The Grokster Remand & Mandate

-Murrel Rhodes