Court rejects RIAA's 'making available' piracy argument

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Apr 30 2008, 14:09

April 29, 2008 6:45 PM PDT

Court rejects RIAA's 'making available' piracy argument

Posted by Steven Musil

The recording industry's music piracy fight was dealt a setback Tuesday when a federal judge rejected the RIAA's "making available" argument in a lawsuit against a husband and wife accused of copyright infringement.

In Atlantic v. Howell, Judge Neil V. Wake denied the labels' motion for summary judgment in a 17-page decision (PDF), allowing the suit to proceed to trial. The argument--that merely the act of making music files available for download constituted copyright infringement--has been the basis for the Recording Industry Association of America's legal battle against online music piracy.

The RIAA sued husband and wife Pamela and Jeffrey Howell for copyright infringement in 2006, claiming the couple had used Kazaa to make copyrighted files available for download. In a deposition, Jeffrey Howell admitted loading the file-sharing software onto his computer and that the songs listed in the complaint were for personal use but that he had not placed the files in the program's shared folder. He said that the recordings were copies made from CDs he owned placed on the computer for personal use and not copies downloaded from Kazaa.

He also argued that that he was not the one sharing the files, but that it was the computer that was sharing the files.

While the couple lacks legal representation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said it filed an amicus brief on behalf of the couple (PDF). The EFF argued against the RIAA's "making available" position, saying in a statement that it "amounts to suing someone for attempted distribution, something the Copyright Act has never recognized."

Judge Wake apparently agreed with that position.

"The court agrees with the great weight of authority that section 106(3) is not violated unless the defendant has actually distributed an unauthorized copy of the work to a member of the public," wrote the judge in his order. "Merely making an unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work available to the public does not violate a copyright holder's exclusive right of distribution."

The EFF called the order the "most decisive rejection yet of the recording industry's 'making available' theory of infringement."

Commenti

  • Pixieguts

    Great to hear there are some wins for humans against the alien music corporations.

    Apr 30 2008, 14:46
  • kidofthecentury

    I dream of a world where musicians could put their work freely online and people bought it if they like it. Well, first of all people would have to actually buy it, but it would be a great step. And yeah, fuck the music INDUSTRY.

    Apr 30 2008, 18:35
  • skeleandmole

    interesting I wounder where we fall in the x amount dollar loss of the music industry.

    Ago 29 2008, 12:55
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