File-sharing suits come to Canada

Discussion in 'ten-forward' started by eyespy, Dec 17, 2003.

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  1. eyespy

    eyespy Registered Member

    Feb 20, 2002
    Oh Canada !!
    UPDATED AT 4:31 PM EST Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003

    File-sharing suits come to Canada

    Globe and Mail Update

    Taking a page from its U.S. counterpart's playbook, Canadian Recording Industry Association president Brian Robertson says the CRIA plans to start suing Canadian users of file-sharing networks. This raises similar kinds of questions as the U.S. action did -- including whether such lawsuits will help the problem or not. But there is also a uniquely Canadian question, which is: Can a legal challenge even succeed, given the significant differences between Canadian copyright law and U.S. copyright law?

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has launched more than 340 lawsuits against individual music downloaders since it began a legal crackdown on Internet piracy in September. In the latest wave, the association filed 41 new lawsuits in early December and sent out 90 letters to users of various file-sharing networks such as Kazaa and eDonkey notifying them they could be subject to future legal action.

    This legal attack was the latest in a series of escalating battles against digital music downloading, which began with lawsuits against the actual networks themselves, including Napster and Those services were shut down, but others -- such as Morpheus, Kazaa and iMesh -- quickly sprang up to take their place.

    Some of these networks have been harder to shut down, however, because of the way they are configured. Kazaa's distributed file-sharing system, for example, makes it harder to prove that the network itself is liable for any copyright infringement that takes place, as opposed to the centralized Napster system. With that avenue blocked to some extent, the RIAA decided to target individual music downloaders with lawsuits.

    This move has been more than a little controversial, in part because the industry group has chosen some odd targets for its legal onslaught — including a 12-year-old honour student from a low-income family, and a 71-year-old retired gentleman whose computer was used by his grandchildren (Mr. Robertson said each of these users had more than 1,000 files shared). In most cases, the individuals who received notices of legal action have settled with the RIAA and paid thousands of dollars in fines.

    Although the record industry says its legal attack has reduced the number of people using file-sharing networks, it's far from clear whether suing individual music downloaders will make a dent in the phenomenon. Some surveys show that activity on Kazaa has decreased, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation said recently an estimated 65 million people are still sharing their files on such digital networks.

    Some have also wondered whether suing 12-year-olds isn't likely to just backfire and create worse publicity for the industry. Mr. Robertson, however, said in an interview that targeting such users may have actually helped spread the message and added to the 'shock and awe' of the industry's campaign. "It did escalate the media coverage somewhat," the CRIA president said.

    So far, the Canadian association has spent several million dollars on an 'instant message' campaign aimed at Kazaa users (which Mr. Robertson said reached over 550,000 users) and a series of ads aimed at stigmatizing file-sharing networks. But so far there has been no legal action. In part, that's because Canadian copyright law makes it harder to prove that a file-sharing network user has broken the law, or in what way.

    The main difference between Canadian and U.S. law is the copyright levy, a fee paid in Canada whenever you buy a blank recordable compact disc, or a music player that has internal memory. That fee was just increased by the Copyright Board, at the request of the music industry. Now, buyers of digital music players such as the Rio or the Apple iPod will pay between $2 and $25 extra depending on the amount of storage in the device, as well as the 21-cent levy per blank recordable CD. The fees are collected in a fund to be used to compensate Canadian artists and copyright holders.

    The wording of the Copyright Act and several Copyright Board rulings suggest that Canadians are legally allowed to download music for their own use, because of the copyright levy. Whether they are able to share that music with others on the Internet is less clear. Some analysts believe that while downloading is covered by the Act, sharing files would fall into the category of distributing copyrighted material "by telecommunication," which is prohibited.

    Mr. Robertson said that the CRIA lawsuits will specifically target uploading of music rather than downloading -- although he added that he thought it was "a little indiscreet" for the Copyright Board to state in its recent decision on the copyright levy that paying the fee made downloading legal under the Act. "But even they agree that uploading is entirely illegal," the CRIA president said. "That's where you get the widespread distribution." While the RIAA went after users with more than 1,000 songs, Mr. Robertson said the CRIA had yet to determine who specifically it would target for lawsuits.

    It remains to be seen whether a Canadian court will agree that uploading is prohibited by the Copyright Act, or that downloading is legal -- or even that it is possible to divorce one from the other. It could also be difficult to prove that Kazaa users knowingly distribute music, since the software used on such networks normally shares all a person's downloaded files automatically. Of course, the CRIA may hope that users decide to settle rather than going to court, as they have in the United States.

    Whether a CRIA digital piracy lawsuit actually makes it to court or not, one thing is clear: file-sharing in Canada could soon get a lot more interesting.

    E-mail Mathew Ingram at

    Look for exclusive commentary by Mathew Ingram at GlobeInvestorGold

    ======================================== is legal in Canada or not??

    bill ;)
  2. Mr.Blaze

    Mr.Blaze The Newbie Welcome Wagon

    Feb 3, 2003
    on the sofa
    You know this really pists me off

    since when was usa country i love elected babysiter of the world

    this some bs

    why should we tell canadians what to do

    im outrage we more and more every day look like a bully to other countrys

    this is geting out of hand

    does money relly tell us americans perty much run it all

    it just isnt right

    as an american i dont think we should get involved inless it effects us

    you know the goverment was never created to have this kind of power when our 4 fathers created this place perty much

    just meant to unite algaints apprestion and terriney but only in americ

    but each state should have its owen laws or way of liveing in less it alpress people

    somewhere dowen the line things got currupted

    heres what gets me the riaa or music pay off police as i like to call them thugs with out warrents

    are now over steping bounds that even goverment cant

    to be able to tell other countrys hey we owen you

    and what really adds iceing on the cake is the same guys who are suing people riped off mp-3 format from programers

    so lets get it straight music industry wants to sue you all for pirating

    but them there selfs dont want to pay for mp-3 format and steal it from the programers who owen the patent rights to it

    but yet they want to use it and not pay for it

    anybody else see something wrong here?
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