CBS Walks a Fine Line on Case Regarding CNET Torrent Software Reporting Ban

CBS Walks a Fine Line on Case Regarding CNET Torrent Software Reporting Ban


CBS Interactive is fighting a lawsuit brought against it’s subsidiary, CNET, that would block the technology website from covering and linking to P2P sharing software. The suit, brought by more than a dozen R&B and hip hop artists, alleges that CNET’s reporting encourages consumers to break copyright laws.

See the full article from The Hollywood Reporter here:

CBS Fights Against Any Ruling That Bans CNET From Pointing to Torrent Software

From the article, it seems that CBS is arguing against the injunction that would prevent CNET from reporting on and/or linking to BitTorrent software. They say doing so would limit CNET’s ability to report on software, and it would in no way prevent people from downloading BitTorrent.

Of course, any injunction of this kind would not only apply to music, but to movie and software downloads, and any other electronic media that can be shared over a P2P network.

The article raises interesting questions as to where to draw the line in editorial content from a site like CNET.

CNET’s bread and butter is reporting on software and technology. Is their reporting on P2P software actually encouraging people to break copyright laws? Is there some level of guilt by association in that regard? And where do you draw the line?

CBSI makes a good point, that a review of BitTorrent by CNET is not the same thing as an endorsement. Also, blocking CNET from reporting on BitTorrent will do nothing to stop people from finding the software on their own.

It can be argued that CBSI would be interested in influencing people away from using P2P sharing software like BitTorrent, as it can be used to violate CBS’s own copyrights with illegal movie and TV show sharing. Would then, the objectivity of CNET be called into question when reporting on P2P software like BitTorrent? Could you say that a review with negative implications about the software is possibly influenced by CBS’s desire to protect its own properties?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and the ripple effects on other cases regarding music and movie downloads.

As always, I want to know what you think. Please comment below.



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