Aug 27th, 2007 // 6 Comments

RIAA.jpgA judge in Arizona has ruled that making a copyrighted song available is, in and of itself, a copyright infringement–even if no one downloads said track. Get to renaming your “shared music” folders, everyone! [Recording Industry Vs. The People]

  1. Sniffle

    While I still feel that the RIAA should suck the cheese from my yambag, I can understand how the “potential” for distribution can be seen as illegal.

    Just as having a certain amount of drugs on you constitutes “INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE” so does having an mp3 available on a file sharing network.

    Again, F the RIAA, but I see why a judge would rule that way.

  2. The Mozfather

    But of course, not in Canada. Here it’s not illegal for people to put files on file-sharing networks, because it is the people taking the files that are committing the crime. It is argued that it is the same as photocopiers in libraries: the people who photocopy are committing the crime, not the people who supply the photocopiers.

    And the analogy with drugs is faulty. Possession of drugs is illegal in and of itself; possession of music isn’t.

  3. Hyman Decent

    @The Mozfather ["Possession of drugs is illegal in and of itself; possession of music isn't."]: It’s not just any kind of music that’s at issue, it’s copyrighted music. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if you posess copyrighted material without having received it in an authorized manner, you’ve broken the law (fair use excepted).

  4. The Mozfather

    @Hyman Decent: Yeah, but how can they tell you didn’t receive it in an authorized manner? Cocaine is illegal no matter how you got it; owning a television is illegal only if you stole it from your Aunt May. They have to prove you got the television illegally. Then, and only then, is it a crime to sell it or give it to someone else.

    A comparable argument to what is being suggested above is that you are a criminal if you leave your stereo outside for someone to steal. This is not really a problem unless it’s not really your stereo. In other words, the judge is arguing you don’t own copyrighted material, you are just renting it, basically.

    It’s weird – the US is so loudly progressive about freedom of speech, and yet it has some of the most restrictive patent and copyright laws in the world. It’s as if you can say whatever you want, as long as it’s not worth anything.

  5. Hyman Decent

    @The Mozfather:
    Re: The first paragraph of your comment
    I was pointing out the logical fallacy of the final sentence of your previous comment; your response to that doesn’t contradict what I wrote. Furthermore, you point out a problem for those who attempt to enforce of the law, not with the law itself.

    Think about stolen cars. If a car is reported stolen and the police find it in your posession, the D.A.’s office doesn’t have to demonstrate that, or even theorize how, you stole it in order to prosecute you. If my Aunt May reported her TV stolen and she happened to have a record of the serial number (on the warranty card she never mailed in, perhaps), it could be used to positively identify her TV and prosecute me for posession of stolen property or whatever the pertinent legal statute might be.

    Does this have anything to do with copyrighted recordings? Possibly, if a copy of one that is alleged to have been illegally copied is watermarked.

    Re: The second paragraph of your comment
    If copyright law works the way that software EULAs seem to indicate that it does, then no, we consumers don’t own, per se, the copies of copyrighted material which we have paid for, only the physical media on which the copies are stored.

    Re: The third paragraph of your comment
    It’s as if you can say whatever you want, as long as it’s not worth anything. Another straw argument.

  6. The Mozfather

    @Hyman Decent: Duuuuuude. We’re kind of arguing past each other here. The issue I’m pointing out is that the analogy is faulty regarding copyrighted material and drugs. Having drugs is illegal no matter what you do with it; playing CDs on your computer or ipod is fine as long as no one else can download it.

    The other issue is whether you consider making legally obtained copyrighted material available to be downloaded constitutes a crime. In Canada it isn’t a crime, so the stereo analogy is apt in that case, since only stolen copyrighted material can be considered illegal. You will be prosecuted in Canada for having stolen copyrighted material, and I think that makes sense. In the US – apparently – some judges think that making any copyrighted material available is akin to actually giving consent to have it stolen. I personally think this is dumb, but this is my own opinion.

    As for my last paragraph, it was simply a comment and not a “straw argument.” I personally think the US has very restrictive patent and copyright laws, and the laws generally favour profit over freedom. Its probably one reason why the US is such an economic powerhouse, but its also another reason why I prefer living in Canada.

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