Stanford Law School
On March 29, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two
cases that together will greatly determine how government can and will
regulate the Internet in the future, and the impact that the public
interest will have on the development of cyberlaw over the next
In MGM v. Grokster, the Court will decide whether copyright holders
can veto consumer electronics and computing innovations that upset the
content industries' prevailing business models, even where the
technology's non-infringing uses provide substantial benefits to
consumers. The question is whether consumer demand for new and better
products will drive technological development, or copyright owners'
demand for control will retard it.
In Brand X v. FCC, the Court will decide whether the FCC should retain
the option to regulate cable modem services to promote open access to
broadband lines, universal service and network neutrality, as it did
in the early days of the Internet when most people connected over
common-carrier telephone lines. The question is whether tomorrow's
communications services will be defined by citizen choices or by the
business interests of a handful of cable broadband companies.
At Cyberlaw in the Supreme Court, the Stanford Law School Center for
Internet and Society will convene a discussion of these cases, their
broader implications, and what effect the pending Supreme Court
decisions could have on the public interest. Panels of attorneys
litigating and arguing these cases, the parties affected by them, the
policy advocates whose work will begin once the Judges rule, and the
people thinking about what the legal landscape will look like for the
next ten years will discuss both cases and the impact the decisions
will have on the future.