CanWest News Service
Thursday, April 01, 2004
Canadian Internet music fans can breathe a sigh of relief after a Federal Court decision Wednesday that will protect them from the prying eyes of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.
Justice Konrad von Finckenstein ruled the association did not prove there was copyright infringement by 29 John and Jane Does, so-called music uploaders who the industry alleges are high-volume music traders.
The decision means Internet service providers (ISPs) won't have to hand over the users' names, a prospect that had sent a chill through the file-sharing community.
It was more bad news for a recording industry that was scrambling to denounce a study released on the eve of the court decision by researchers at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina which found, contrary to industry claims, that online file sharing isn't responsible for the decline in CD sales.
"This makes it open season on any intellectual property product," said one music industry insider. "Every single person who works for a record company should be concerned about their job after this ruling."
The Canadian music industry says sharing of music files on peer-to-peer services such as Kazaa has cost the industry $400 million in lost sales and resulted in a 20 per cent cut to its workforce.
In what analysts termed a stunning decision, Finckenstein ruled file sharing -- the uploading and downloading of files over the Internet -- is not illegal under Canadian copyright law, reaffirming what the Copyright Board of Canada has already determined.
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 wrote.
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