Grokster Ruling Begins the Good Fight

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2005-06-27 Print this article Print

Opinion: It's not censorship; the government can and should enforce laws on the U.S. Internet. (

Todays Supreme Court ruling is a step toward something Ive been predicting for many years: the filtering of Internet sites and content by some sort of "national firewall." After all, what value is the MGM versus Grokster ruling if all it does is make IP thieves move offshore, as many have done already? Government has the right—even the responsibility—to see that its laws and regulations are enforced. The Internet is no exception. When the Internet is being used on American soil, it should comply with American law. And if it doesnt, then the government should be able to step in and filter the illegal sites and activities.
The controversy over file-sharing isnt the only legal battle pointing us toward Internet filtering. Americas looming fight with the World Trade Organization over Internet gambling is another example of where American law stops at our borders, while the Internet clearly doesnt.
Read more here about the Supreme Court decision in the MGM vs. Grokster case. In this case, countries that host Internet gambling sites have complained that U.S. regulation of the gaming industry is an unfair trade practice. Here the Internets world without borders runs smack-dab into governments responsibility to regulate its citizens activities, whether in person or online. Click here to read about how some analysts are saying that the Grokster decision leaves the field open for P2P file-sharing companies. The World Trade Organization has an important role in regulating global trade. Thats a good thing, but not when it limits a member governments ability to regulate certain activities, gambling among them. In recent columns, I have taken the Chinese government (and American companies) to task for their filtering of the Internet as delivered to residents of the communist dictatorship. How is filtering file-sharing and gambling any different? Since gambling and stealing are not accepted as universal human rights—well, not in civilized places—I see no problem with the enforcement of U.S. laws related to gambling, file-sharing, taxes, pornography and other activities. If "the Internet" isnt willing to abide by them, the United States has every reason to stop illegal content from reaching American citizens. This is vastly different than the Chinese habit of filtering political, news, and religious content it sees as threatening the Beijing governments grip on power. Read the full story on Grokster Ruling Begins the Good Fight Contributing editor David Coursey has spent two decades writing about hardware, software and communications for business customers. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.
One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for, where he writes a daily Blog ( and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is

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