Gun control and Grokster

Politics, as I’ve said before, is all about the whacking of fatted calves, and there’s a sad, albeit humorous, bit of hypocrisy underway in the Senate. These guys are about to pass legislation that would prevent people from suing gun manufacturers when their weapons are used in the commission of crimes. I’m all for this bill — and not because I’m a member of the NRA. I think people kill people, not guns. But here’s the hypocrisy.

Just last month, the right won a victory when the Supreme Court ruled that the RIAA and the MPAA could sue Grokster and others when people used their software to download pirated products of the copyright industry.

So let’s see. It’s good thing to sue private companies whose products may be used by people in the commission of copyright theft but not murder. Somehow, that doesn’t make sense to me.

The values of politicians are determined by the fatted calves they represent and little else.


  1. Kevin Newman says

    From the Dan Gilmore link:
    “This case is different, the court said, because of “substantial evidence” that Grokster and StreamCast, the other defendant, were deliberately inducing copyright infringement and that the primary purpose of the software was such use. It sent the case back to the lower court to look at the inducement question.”

    There is a difference (at least in the court’s view) between making a product that “may be used by people in the commission of copyright theft” and a product that is primarily designed and marketed for the primary purpose of copyright theft. That’s why the Betamax case was decided in Sony’s favor: the VTR’s primary use was non-infringing.

    Most gun owners are not using their guns commit violent crimes. This report in 2000 from the ATF ( found that when tracing sales of guns used in criminal acts, 57% of those guns were sold by only 1.2% of gun dealers.

    I don’t have any numbers, but I’d bet my entire collection of illegal .mp3s that a much higher percentage of Grokster users have illegally downloaded music using that software. I’m very sure it is over 50%, and I’m pretty sure it is over 95%.

    Here’s some more hypocrisy: You think it is a bad thing that “The values of politicians are determined by the fatted calves they represent and little else”, but as an NRA member, you are directly responsible for funding the process.

    My personal opinion is that we shouldn’t have this shield law, but we also shouldn’t hold gun makers responsible for misuse of their products in cases where they followed the law and weren’t negligent. If any gunmaker were shown to be deliberately inducing criminal use of their guns, I’d be all for some lawsuits.

  2. Kevin, I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor would I ever be a member of the NRA.

  3. Kevin Newman says

    Oops. I took “– and not because I’m a member of the NRA” to mean ‘I am a member of the NRA, but that isn’t why I think the way I do’.

    Like if I said “I think Portland Brew has good coffee, and I’m not saying that because I work there.” I do work there, but my opinion is not based on my employment.

    Sorry I misread you.

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