[Dixielandjazz] Music Tyrants lose one

Len Nielsen 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.

Len Nielsen
Victoria Canada

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 
copyright analysts.

"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 
and Harcourt.

"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 
copyright laws.

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 
the ruling.

"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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