Will the Supreme Court Help Kill Spyware?

by Preston Gralla

The Supreme Court ruling against file-sharing software was clearly wrongheaded --- but an odd byproduct of the decision may be that there will be less spyware in the world.



By ruling that makers of file-sharing software can be sued, the court made it all but certain that many of those companies will be put out of business.



What does this have to do with spyware? Plenty. Makers of most file-sharing software aren't intellectual groundbreakers --- they're only in it for the money. And their business models use spyware as their revenue engine. Download their free software, and spyware comes along for the ride. For example, Computer Associates, makers of the antispyware Pest Patrol, calls Kazaa the number one spyware threat on the Internet because of how much spyware it downloads to your PC.



The Supreme Court decision means there will be fewer file-sharing apps available for download, and so less spyware will be distributed.



Don't get me wrong; I think the Supreme Court ruling was absolutely wrong, and in the long run, the ruling may stifle innovation. But it's also one more example of the law of unintended consequences, and in this instance, one of the unintended consequences is a good one.


What do you think of the Supreme Court's decision?


2 Comments

aristotle
2005-06-28 21:55:31
All well and good.
But don’t forget the curse of the missing clause.
jwenting
2005-06-29 00:43:48
nothing wrong
The ruling was completely correct.
It didn't ban the technology, it decided that the marketing tactics of the companies charged were such that these companies were inciting their users to illegal behaviour and that therefore the prior decision by a lower court to strike charges against those companies on the ground that the technology has non-infringing uses was invalid.
Again: the decision said nothing about the technology, only about the way it was marketed.


If you don't think marketing a P2P program for the specific purpose of sharing copyrighted material without the required distribution licenses is a criminal offense I'm very sorry for you.