Lawyers for Grokster have recruited a financially powerful ally in their fight against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
Mark Cuban has agreed to finance the legal effort against MGM, he wrote on Saturday in his web log. Cuban co-founded the HD.net high-definition broadcasting service and owns the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team. He is also known to many as a co-founder of the Broadcast.com service, which was sold to Yahoo in 1999.
"The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and others came to me and asked if I would finance the legal effort against MGM," he wrote. "I said yes. I would provide them the money they need."
Grokster is due to face MGM in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in a case that some say could have broad implications for the future of technological innovation. The issue in front of the court is whether content holders can sue peer-to-peer distributors like Grokster for the copyright violations of their users. Some critics of the entertainment industry say that should the court rule in favor of MGM that would open the door to legal actions by content holders against inventors of new technologies.
Cuban appears to agree with this point of view. In his web log entry, he said a loss for Grokster would make technological innovation the domain of big companies only. This is because smaller companies and innovators would not be able to legally insulate themselves against lawsuits that might result from a perceived threat that their new technology holds against the entertainment business, he said.
"It doesn't matter that the RIAA has been wrong about innovations and the perceived threat to their industry, every single time," Cuban wrote of the Recording Industry Association of America which is supporting MGM alongside the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Music Publisher's Association of America. "It just matters that they can spend more then everyone else on lawyers. That's not the way it should be," Cuban wrote.