The US Supreme Court will hear arguments on March 29 in MGM v. Grokster, potentially leading to a ruling that could stifle new Internet-based services that have nothing to do with sharing music and movies. Here’s an article about the issues at stake.

Although the music and recording industries act as if the only purpose of peer-to-peer file sharing software is to obtain “pirated” music, in fact there are rich new services in development for collaborating in exciting ways that branch off from file sharing technology. Here’s a short description of some of them from the article:

“Some of those innovations were on display here at the Emerging Technology Conference, attended by about 750 hardware and software designers. The demonstrations included Flickr, a Canadian service that has made it possible for Web loggers and surfers to easily share and catalog millions of digital photographs.

“And Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of, demonstrated a set of new features in the company’s A9 search engine designed to make it extremely simple for Web users to share searches specially tailored to mine everything from newspapers to yellow pages to catalogs of electronics parts.

“Software designers from iFabricate, a small company in Emeryville, Calif., displayed a new Web service intended to make it simple for home inventors to share instructions for complex do-it-yourself garage construction projects. Projects can be documented and shared with a mixture of images, text, ingredient lists, computer-animated design files and digital videos.

“There was also a demonstration of Wikipedia, the volunteer-run online encyclopedia effort that now has generated 1.5 million entries in 200 languages.

“Innovative online services of those types could be harder to create in the future, if the court rules that technology creators are liable for any misuse of their systems, according to technology proponents here.”

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