Peer to Peer File Swapping NOT Copyright Infringement

at least the software that enables it doesn’t infringe copyrights, according to one federal court judge. A very surprising ruling, but will it hold up?

Edited to clarify that the ruling affects the software, not the copying.

From the article, it looks like the ruling is based on the “substantial non-infringing uses” argument. It’s sort of like saying that pipe wrench manufactuers can’t be held liable for a murder.

The way the opinion says “…the users of [the software] can and do choose to employ it for both lawful and unlawful ends,” implies that the software can be used for lawful ends. Therefore, the precedent set in Sony v. Universal and the Home Recording Act should help prop up this ruling. What killed Napster was that it had very limited non-infringing uses.

Your topic is a bit misleading. The ruling found that companies who make P2P software cannot be held liable for the actions of their users. The judge is quoted as saying that P2P companies aren’t much different than firms that make VCRs or photocopiers – both have legal and illegal uses (namely copyright infringement). He didn’t make a blanket statement that all P2P sharing is not copyright infringement, just that some P2P sharing is legal.

Exactly, that’s why I edited the post to clarify that it’s the software publishers who can’t be held liable, in the same manner as a VCR or photocopier manufacturer. An individual could still commit infringement using the software, just like a copier user.

I’d venture that less than 1% of peer-to-peer file sharing is of legal material, though.

The only legal thing I can think of that anyone downloads from P2P services is game demos.

Also keep in mind “II. Factual/Proceedural Background. C. Limitation of this Order. Because Plaintiffs principly seek prospective injuctive reflief, the Court at this time considers only whether the current versions of Grokster’s and StreamCast’s products and services subject either party to liability. This Order does not reach the question whether either Defendant is liable for damages arising from past versions of their software, or from other past activities.” (emp. in orig.)

So basically, even if the appeal on this action fails, the plaintiffs can still sue based on past versions.

Porn is illegal?? Oh shit… :)


Oddly enough when I did use P2P systems I tended to download mostly music I have bought in the past and lost or don’t feel like grabbing the CD out of the car or whatever.

– Xaroc

[quote="XarocOddly enough when I did use P2P systems I tended to download mostly music I have bought in the past and lost or don’t feel like grabbing the CD out of the car or whatever.

My 13 year old daughter uses “file sharing” a lot, and it struck me the other day that this is replacing the radio for her generation. She’ll be passed a tip from her friends, or read a magazine about the great new band, and she’ll download the song. It will be on her “playlist” for a week to a month, then get played less and less.

If she really likes it, then she’ll push to buy it, about as often I guess as before file sharing. The sense of “ownership” of a nice CD still has a draw. In fact I think if the record industry moved to packaging in a DVD case format, with a high-quality insert booklet with lots of background info and pictures, I think the sales would be a lot higher.

Anyway, my point is how does the radio play revenue thing work? Do the recording companies make songs available for free as advertising, or do they charge the radio stations?


Mandatory licensing, which is also one of the solutions proposed for file sharing & Internet radio. Under mandatory licensing, anyone can play a song, and then must pay the publisher a set fee. It is “mandatory” on the publisher - they cannot refuse & force a higher rate than previously set. This is often handled through a designated body, like ASCAP.

They charge the stations. That is the big stink over internet radio, they came up with a wack method of figuring how to charge. But I agree with you, all the music I listen to is because I hear a snippet here, mention there. Go check it out on kazaa then go buy it.

Nothing like watching TV, listening to the HBO commercial where Denzel Washington goes the wooohooo. Search the internet for Denzel Washington hbo commercial. Finding the song is clocks by coldplay. Download the song and confirm it is the right song, see that it is on the cd a rush of blood to the head, order it on amazon to go with the coldplay cd Parachutes that I already own. CD delivered 3 days later.

I really think the music companies are missing just how powerful instant access to a song you just heard a snippet of is.


You never leave your home, do you Chet?

I think the problem is that people our age (20/30 somethings) are already conditioned to buy the disc. Our habits are less likely to change based on some new technology making it “free”. Many kids aren’t learning to make that distinction. They believe that downloading music is ok because, well, it’s there and why should they pay for it? They will be conditioned differently than we were when we were young.

All I need is the 30 sec. clips on a place like Amazon to decide if I want to buy a CD. I don’t have to hear all the songs in their entirety. I still buy most music based on the band or hearing a song on the radio/friend recommendation. I don’t have time or patience to play the illegal file swapping game.


Eh, they also PAY the stations to play the songs. Payola never died, it’s just very convoluted with some funky middleman shit, but it’s like 500k to get a song on radio these days…