[Dixielandjazz] Music Tyrants lose one
lennielsen at telus.net
Wed Mar 31 16:46:56 PST 2004
Whether you agree with free music sharing or not, below is a ruling in
favor of the little guy. The music industry is not used to losing
control and it will be interesting to see how it comes out in the long run.
Court stops bid to reveal names of music uploaders
TORONTO (CP) - In what analysts are calling a "stunning" decision, the
Federal Court has ruled against a motion which would have allowed the
music industry to begin suing individuals who make music available online.
Justice Konrad von Finckenstein ruled Wednesday that the Canadian
Recording Industry Association did not prove there was copyright
infringement by 29 so-called music uploaders.
Without the names, CRIA can't begin filing lawsuits against the alleged
high-volume music traders, identified only as John and Jane Does.
It also reaffirms what the Copyright Board of Canada has already ruled -
downloading music in this country is not illegal.
Von Finckenstein said that downloading a song or making files available
in shared directories, like those on Kazaa, does not constitute
copyright infringement under the current Canadian law.
"No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either
distributed or authorized the reproduction of sound recordings," he
wrote in his 28- page ruling. "They merely placed personal copies into
their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users
via a P2P service."
He compared the action to a photocopy machine in a library. "I cannot
see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine
in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a
personal copy on a shared directory linked to a P2P service," he said.
The ruling sent shock waves through the industry and surprised some
"It raises questions of the viability of suing individual users in
Canada under current Canadian copyright law," said Michael Geist, a
professor at the University of Ottawa specializing in Internet and
e-commerce law and technology counsel with the law firm Osler, Hoskin
"It is a remarkable decision. He's clearly ruled that
(uploading/downloading) activity isn't unlawful."
Calling the decision "stunning," Geist anticipates it will push the
industry to increase its lobbying efforts for legislative change to
Last month, the industry association took five Internet service
providers to Federal Court, trying to force the companies to hand over
the names and addresses of 29 people who allegedly shared hundreds of
songs with others over the Internet last November and December.
The alleged infringers are currently identifiable only through a numeric
Internet protocol address and user handles like Jordana(at)KaZaA.
Bell Canada, Shaw Communications, Telus Communications and Rogers Cable
all fought CRIA's request. Videotron agreed to comply, saying owner
Quebecor is also concerned about piracy in other parts of its business,
which includes newspapers, television, Internet services and CDs.
Peter Bissonnette, president of Shaw Communications, was delighted with
"We are very, very pleased and I'm sure our customers are as well," he
said from his Calgary office.
Shaw had argued privacy legislation protects the identities of its clients.
"We have obligations to protect the privacy of our customers. We've
always taken that approach," said Bissonnette.
Shaw and the other ISPs also argued the information they'd be forced to
collect wouldn't be 100 per cent accurate because of the dynamic nature
of IP addresses.
Wednesday's decision combined with a recent Harvard Business School
study on CD sales strikes a blow to a worldwide movement to curb music
swapping, says Howard Knopf, a lawyer who represented the Canadian
Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.
The study, released Tuesday, found that downloading had no impact on
sales of CDs in recent years.
"The recording industry can't prove that they have a problem," said
Knopf. "This P2P may actually be saving the record industry from worse
Earlier this week the London-based International Federation of the
Phonographic Industry held a news conference to launch its international
campaign against music piracy. It said lawsuits had been launched in
Germany, Denmark, Italy and Canada.
The group claims worldwide sales of recorded music fell seven per cent
in 2002, and added that it expected figures for 2003 to show sales
dipping by at least the same amount.
In the United States, the recording industry has sued 1,977 people since
launching its assault against illegal file-sharers last fall. It has
reached out-of-court settlements in around 400 cases.
The legal actions target people allegedly involved in large-scale file
sharing on systems including Kazaa, DirectConnect, WinMX, eMule and iMesh.
© The Canadian Press, 2004
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