copyright

Limewire – What Next ?

As you may have heard, Limewire lost their case this week in the United States.

The Recording Industry Association of America had filed a lawsuit against them in the state of New York on August 4th, 2006, claiming they facilitated copyright violations with their file sharing software, by not taking the appropriate measures to prevent such activity. And on Wednesday the 12th of May, Judge Kimba Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against Limewire.

Of course the recording industry praised this ruling, both in the United States and in Canada. But could this all have been prevented ?

On February 12th, 2010 Limewire CEO George Searle posted an entry on the company’s blog stating that Limewire had been “working diligently with labels, publishers and artists to introduce a full range of commercial services that harness, rather than alienate, music fans”.

The company had signed an agreement with independent music distributor CD Baby on July 1st, 2009 to sell recordings from their 240,000 plus artists to Americans via their online store.

But of course Mitch Bainwo, RIAA’s Chairman and CEO, claimed that Limewire had “thumbed its nose at the law and creators” in RIAA’s May 12th, 2010 press release on the ruling, because they failed to both negotiate licenses with the labels and impose filters on their peer to peer transfers.

By finding LimeWire’s CEO personally liable, in addition to his company, the court has sent a clear signal to those who think they can devise and profit from a piracy scheme that will escape accountability

Yes, the distribution of copyrighted material using LimeWire’s software was illegal. But whether it was a “piracy scheme” is debatable because Limewire would not have even bothered to warn its users of the implications of such violations nor would they have implemented any content filtering if they were in it to profit on the back of copyright owners.

RIAA obviously believes that the multiple statements and warnings found in LimeWire‘s end-user license agreement and copyright documentation are tantamount to lip service, along with the basic content filtering. But I believe the consumer, those that buy music or purposely use services where the copyright holder is compensated, do heed to these warnings and do use these filters.

Personally I have avoided peer to peer software because of the spam files and possibility of infection by malicious software. But now that LimeWire has partnered with AVG Technologies I may consider using the program. But only if I know the artists and copyright holders are compensated.

I believe LimeWire could distribute funds derived from advertisements and Livewire Pro software sales to copyright owners. And this could result in further partnerships with wireless device manufacturers, who could stream content and targeted advertising on their devices.

But of course we’ll need to wait until June 1st to know what the monetary penalties and damages will be, the original figure being $150,000 per occurrence of an illegally traded file according to Betanews. And then there’s the possibility of an appeal or settlement.

Here are some interesting links until then :

Arista Records LLC et al v. Lime Wire LLC et al

Press Releases

Interesting Reading

ACTA Vs Canadian Law

From the 12th to the 16th of this month numerous international government representatives will meet in Wellington, New Zealand to discuss the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

This agreement seeks to enforce measures to control the illegal distribution of copyrighted material internationally ; Measures that include restrictions that could result in extensive searches at the border, prohibitions in regards to the use of devices that circumvent the digital locks on media and intrusive, mandatory policing by internet service providers.

In an email to The Ottawa Citizen, Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan stated “Negotiations are continuing and there is not yet an agreement.” and that the current government would not sign on to the agreement unless it “reflects the best interest of Canadians.”

The proposed measures do not reflect the best interest of Canadians.

Since 1997 Canadians have been able to legally make private copies of audio recordings and the sale of region free DVD or Blu-Ray players have yet to be restricted in Canada.

Canadians have also not been subjected to undue searches at the border over this issue, have not been subjected to copy protection since due to the consumer and legal backlash against rootkit based copy protection, and the attempts to force internet providers to police copyright on their systems failed in federal court.

The proposed measures were also introduced in a manner contradictory to our laws on transparency and may conflict with the conclusions derived from our recent public consultations on copyright reform. Even the EU Commission had been forced to put those issues to a vote this month, to open the Agreement’s process up to the public.

Amendments to our copyright act will be proposed shortly by the Canadian Government in response to the aforementioned public consultations.

New Levy Proposed For Mp3 Players

A new levy for mp3 players and iPods has been proposed in Parliament.

Private Members Bill C-499 would extend the current private copying levy from blank audio cassettes, CD-R, CD-RW and DAT tapes to MP3 Players, including iPods, in order to compensate copyright holders for the distribution of copyrighted material to these devices.

Unfortunately the previous attempt to expand this levy to “digital audio recorders” called for rates up to $75 per device, which would have been passed onto consumers by the manufacturers, and would have resulted in the decimation of the Canadian sales of these devices because Canadian consumers would have imported them to avoid the additional fees.

As a consumer I oppose these levies because I believe I have already paid for the right to distribute recordings that I have purchased online to these devices. And I have also purchased the compact discs from which I make private copies, copies for personal use that are deemed legal since the passing of the Private Copying Act in 1997.

Remuneration is not required from me because I do not download music illegally off the net, yet this levy is based on the assumption that I download recordings off the net illegally simply because I own a device that can be used to store this material.

After all they had assumed that most of the previously levied items were used to make copies of copyrighted material. And this will of course result in further assumptions about film downloads, which will likely result in more levies in the future on DVD-R, DVD-RW and devices on which video can be stored or played back.

We need an equitable, logical remuneration scheme based on the realities of today’s recording industry.

Distribution is no longer limited to a physical medium like vinyl, cassette or compact disc and the consumer should not be paying for a recording every time they copy this recording to a medium when this copying is meant for personal, private use.

Please contact your local Member of Parliament and voice your opinion on this issue as soon as possible.

I will be updating this blog entry as the issue progresses.