Camping Out for Supreme Court Arguments: The Supreme Court will be hearing the Grokster case tomorrow, and it seems to be the hottest ticket of the Supreme Court Term. The hot ticket means that a number of people likely are planning to brave the cruddy weather and get in line early on Tuesday morning (or even camp out Monday night) to try to get one of the first-come, first-served seats.

  Being mentioned on the VC isn't much in the way of consideration, but I would be very interested to hear reports from people who wait in line for the Grokster case and either a) make it in to see the argument or b) get turned away. (I would be happy to anonymize any reports if you would prefer not to have your name mentioned.) I'll be particularly curious to hear how early you need to be in line to get a seat, and also whether the people who waited and made it in thought it was worth it in the end.

  My own take is that it's usually not worth it to camp out for a high-profile oral argument. The Supreme Court press covers arguments quite well, and transcripts are released relatively soon after argument. While you get to soak in the aura of being there at the live argument, you never quite know if the argument will be particularly illuminating. Plus, you can soak in that same aura of being at the Court another day when no high-profile cases are being heard and you don't need to wait in line. But of course lots of people see it differently.
How Early Did You Need To Show Up For the Grokster Argument?: Pretty early, apparently. [See Update below] Lawyer Bruce Boyden waited in line for one of the special seats reserved for members of the Supreme Court bar, and reports that even those who had showed up for one of the Supreme Court bar seats at 4 am didn't get in to the Courtroom. Bruce also reports that Supreme Court bar members who showed up as late as 9:30am this morning were able to sit in the Lawyer's Lounge and listen in; the Court's sound system pipes in the audio from the Courtroom directly into the Lawyer's Lounge, which is down the hall from the Courtroom.

  UPDATE: Wired News has this story covered. From the Wired piece:
  Gray skies, with intermittent rain and cold, didn't deter a group of staunch file-sharing supporters -- as well as a number of hired line-standers -- from queuing up starting at around 2:30 p.m. Monday afternoon to secure a seat in court for the landmark copyright case.
  . . . .
  By 9 p.m. Monday, there were about 40 people in line to fill the estimated 50 available seats in court. Other space is reserved for the press and members of the Supreme Court bar.
  Hired line-standers were paid between $200 and $500 for the night to hold spaces for various people with an interest in the outcome of the case, according to one line stander who declined to give his name. People can be sent to the back of the line if they are caught swapping places with a hired line-stander at the last minute. Those who pay the line standers usually show up an hour or two before the court opens.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Waiting in Line for Grokster:
  2. How Early Did You Need To Show Up For the Grokster Argument?:
  3. Camping Out for Supreme Court Arguments:
More on Waiting in Line for Grokster: The magic cutoff for showing up for the Grokster case seems to have been around 10:00pm the night before the argument. George Mason student Eion Murdock reports showing up at 3 am and missing getting in by about a dozen spots; he reports that he was one of the 25 line-waiters who got to see the Brand X argument, but that he missed Grokster. Eion writes: "Not exactly what I was hoping for, but I figured that having stood in line for over 8 hours by that point I needed to see something."

  CDT policy analyst Mike Steffen writes that he showed up around 8pm on Monday night, and that he thought it was worth waiting in line (for 14 hours!) to see the argument. A slightly-edited excerpt from Mike's report:
  There were a lot of interesting or amusing interactions from the line sitting experience itself. For example:
  -waking up at 4 am to see a 20 person Supreme Court Bar line materialize basically out of nowhere. It was composed almost entirely of paid line-sitters, who made a very strange bunch. It's a little hard to describe how surreal this was at the time;
  -seeing Annalee Newitz from EFF ask Jack Valenti to autograph a vintage Betmax tape early this morning--and seeing Valenti sportingly oblige;
   -watching the argument between some of the campers further back from us and the MGM execs and P2P VC backers who showed up late to take places from hired sitters--and watching the Supreme Court police change their mind about the official policy on line-sitting over the course of the interaction.
  -chatting with the [other people in line] was fun and valuable in itself. This included the general counsel (!) of MGM, who had to stand in the public line with the rest of us (albeit only after 7:30 am when he showed up to replace his sitter), because petitioners in Grokster had run out of tickets for parties. He was exceptionally personable and friendly.
  Thanks to Eion and Mike for their reports.