peer to peer

File Sharing Lawsuits In Canada ?

British Columbia based NGN Prima Production will soon be sending notices to individual Canadians who have illegally downloaded a film entitled “Recoil“.

This company has successfully sued to gain access to the identifiable information behind 50 IP addresses, that it suspected were involved in the illegal distribution of this Steve Austin action film.

Four internet providers (3 Web, Access Communications Co-Operative, ACN, and Distributel Communications) have been ordered by the Federal Court in Montreal to hand over information in regards to those 50 IP addresses to NGN Prima Production, by the beginning of December.

The maximum penalty for non-commercial infringement is $5000 now that Bill C-11 has come into force. But many experts suspect that it may be significantly reduced by the courts in some cases.

Doom & Gloom ?

Debate has recently heated up in regards to the effects of peer to peer due to a report published by The American Assembly at Columbia University.

Since its publication in October, arguments on whether the technology is detrimental to the industry have been going back and forth, some claiming that the users of this technology buy more music whilst others claim they do not.

This study found that peer to peer users purchased 30% more music whilst RIAA proponents claim they spend pretty much that same amount as non peer to peer users on music.

This is only one of the numerous reports that found that peer to peer users buy more music, concert tickets and artist associated merchandise. And numerous members of the industry have responded to this information by consolidating their operations into media companies like Live Nation. But one should notice quite a few issues with the industry’s response.

One has to wonder why peer to peer is being targeted when it’s usage does not result in a loss of sales :

“The truth is that P2P users spend about the same on the core music categories as non-users, on this basis. P2P users spend a bit more on digital downloads and subscriptions but it would be a tough argument that there is much of a difference. Six dollars extra on tracks is hardly half an album.” – NPD Group Blog Entry, dated October 18th, 2012

You will notice the last sentence on that statement emphasizes the industry’s preference when it comes to sales.

They prefer the sale of albums. And any argument in regards to concert ticket and merchandising sales fall on deaf ears because they haven’t secured those sources of income.

“There is a significant difference in spend on merchandise and concert tickets, where P2P users spend nearly twice as much as non-users. Are we saying that P2P file sharing promotes T-shirt sales, or show attendance? Of course not; that would be silly. What it says is that the people who download music illegally are generally more engaged in music, so they go to shows and they wear their favorite artists on their shirts. I have news for you: they would be doing this if P2P never existed.”

P2P is used to preview music for free and the operative word, free, also applies to new technologies that the blog entry also acknowledges.

The average P2P downloader spends $42 on these categories of music. No contest- P2P users spend more. Guess what- people who follow artists on Facebook spend more than that, as do people who use Twitter; and those who subscribe to Rhapsody or Pandora spend a whole lot more than any of these groups.

We are no longer in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. Numerous licensed services now offer free music, some of which do not require the installation of questionable software and/or the mass storing of music files. And individuals will not care in regards to the source of this music because it’s free.

The problem of course if that the music industry is slow to adapt and have not licensed their complete repertoire to the new services.

The labels failed to negotiate and obtain the rights to older recordings so people continue to use P2P for recordings that are not available for download through the legal services, some of which are not available on or have yet to be made available on compact disc.

These distribution issues are also what is driving people to use peer to peer networks to obtain films that are not available on or have yet to be made available on DVDs that are compatible with their home theater equipment.

Peer to peer services will likely be used less and less by people who are looking for music that can be found on the other free services but the above aforementioned rights issues will keep peer to peer alive until they are addressed.

Songwriters Propose Another Flat Rate

The Songwriters Association Of Canada have proposed a flat monthly fee of $10 in response to music piracy on the internet.

This fee, which would be charged to consumers via their internet providers, would enable Canadians to download an unlimited amount of music downloads and would compensate Canadian songwriters.

This all you can eat buffet may appeal to some peer to peer users. But unfortunately this fee would likely result in additional fees, as it does not compensate copyright holders. And at the moment there are music services that offer unlimited streaming for $5 that pay royalties that are forwarded to songwriters and copyright holders via the appropriate rights agencies.

I believe that a royalty scheme for peer to peer services is preferable, as it would enable the current rights agencies to collect funds from the peer to peer services and distribute these funds to songwriters and copyright holders.

Peer to peer services could obtain funds from advertisements and premium subscription sales, as well as affiliations, to pay these royalties.

As a consumer I would prefer a choice in regards to what services I subscribe to and pay for. And at the moment I purchase music via the legal services listed on this site. I also use free, advertiser funded services.

My current internet provider also throttles peer to peer services so I see no point in paying upwards from $10 to compensate songwriters and copyright holders for transfers I am unable to perform.

Yes, I am aware that some of these measures can be bypassed. But I am simply not interested in downloading music via the peer to peer services. And the majority of peer to peer users download porn and films according to an Envisional Study published in January of this year.

I suspect the internet providers will resist this fee, in respect to a 2004 Supreme Court rulling that found they were not legally responsible for the file transfers on their networks. The internet providers would likely oppose having to pay to administer the collection of the fee, or subsequent levies or fees.

P2P Majority Agrees with Avenue Q ?

Appearently a recent Envisional study has found that the majority of Peer To Peer users believe that “The Internet Is For Porn“.

In attempting to discover how much copyrighted material is being pirated, the NBC Universal commissioned study found that out of the 10,000 transfered files they examined, 35.8% were porn, followed closely by film at 35.2% and television programing at 12.5%.

Of those 10,000 PublicBT files, only 2.9% were illegal music downloads. But of course the study also found that “23.76% of traffic was estimated to be infringing“, meaning that almost a quarter of all internet traffic involved copyright violations of some sort, excluding porn.

When concentrating on American transfers Envisional found that 17.53% of the transfers were infringing. And that 20% of the transfers were conducted on Peer To Peer networks, 13.8% of which were copyright violations.

The vast majority of streaming on the net was either legal or porn according to the study, video streaming accounting for 27% to 30% of the transfers. Only an estimated 1.56% of this streaming material was deemed infinging.

The study also establishes that 93.4% of Usenet posts contain copyrighted material, which is rather interesting. I had thought most people had given up on this antiquated distribution method.

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