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Making Files Available Breaking the Law? 538

Posted by samzenpus
from the learn-not-to-share dept.
lordhathor2001 writes "The RIAA has argued in one of their cases that simply "making files available for distribution" violates copyright laws. This means that regardless of the legality of a file somebody has on their computer, just putting it in a shared files folder that can be accessed by other people is illegal. Although it's asinine, it really shouldn't come as any surprise given the RIAA's legal campaign that's more about what it believes than what the law actually says."
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Making Files Available Breaking the Law?

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  • Distinction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:33PM (#14563945) Homepage Journal
    Putting files in a shared folder may be found to be illegal in a court of law. The mere act does not a crime make.
    • What? You're saying "the act of putting files in a shared folder" is not a crime? But "putting files in a shared folder may be found to be illegal in a court of law? Are you seriously claiming nothing is illegal until tried?
    • Re:Distinction (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)
      One of the main problems with the RIAA and their tactics so far, is that they're suing people who had files "available".

      None of what I'm going to say applies to bittorrent, but from what I've gathered of their tactics, all they do is list the files your P2P prog has shared & that they claim copyright to.

      That should not and will not stand up in court. Even civil law has minimal standards of evidence and a list of files + your I.P. address doesn't prove anything.

      All the files you're 'sharing' could be fak
      • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:24PM (#14564687)
        One of the main problems with the RIAA and their tactics so far, is that they're suing people who had files "available".

        Whatever anyone here may think of them, the RIAA do have a legal right to protect their copyright. So, in our perfectly rational legal world, how should they go about this?

        The last Slashdot discussion I saw on this subject was full of people ranting about how unfair it was for the RIAA to seek the identity of someone, in court, when that person's system was known to be actively advertising that it was sharing copyright material that would be illegal to download.

        Moreover, even if RIAA staff download such a file themselves, many here will pop up and tell us that since they own the copyright, that's not illegal and doesn't prove anything.

        However, we all know (and let's face it, I'm not just saying that and we really do all know) that copyright infringement via P2P is widespread. If the offer to download, including an advertisement that the material really is the copyright material that can't legally be downloaded, deliberately being made available on a file-sharing system, and demonstrated by the RIAA to be downloadable because they made a copy, isn't sufficient to bring a case before a judge and expect some legal recourse, then what is?

        Congratulations: you just made a pretty solid case that in order to preserve the clear legal rights of the RIAA, it's necessary for law enforcement agencies to monitor and log all Internet traffic routinely, for governments to ban any anonymous access to the Internet and require ISPs to make a serious effort to confirm the identity of anyone they allow to use their systems, and for draconian penalties to be available when someone is successfully prosecuted for making an illegal copy via the Internet.

        Personally, I'd rather the RIAA could sue the pants of someone who is blatantly breaking the law, and that person couldn't weasel their way out of their deserved punishment using legal chicanery, and the rest of us didn't have to put up with the sort of crap I mentioned above.

        • by laughingcoyote (762272) * <barghesthowl.excite@com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:40PM (#14564781) Journal

          Or, of course, we could always reform copyright, limiting its term to 5 or 10 years, and making it a regulation on industrial, for-profit use of the material, rather than private, not-for-profit sharing. I think that'd solve it pretty nicely-anyone -selling- the stuff is going to leave an easily followed trail (the money's got to go to someone!), and we'd have -no- more reason to worry about what private individuals are doing with their stuff.

        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:16PM (#14564949) Journal
          demonstrated by the RIAA to be downloadable because they made a copy, isn't sufficient to bring a case before a judge and expect some legal recourse, then what is?
          Actually, I'm pretty sure that the RIAA is not making copies of shared files before they go to court.

          if you go dig around google for the "whitehead declaration", the guy describes what their investigative procedures are. They don't do anything that could result as evidence in a civil case, much less a criminal one.

          Having files available is not a crime. Serving up fake files with popular names is not a crime. They don't know if they have the copyright, because they haven't actually listened to any of the files the claim are theirs.

          As for the rest of your post, you took my words waaaaaaay off course.
  • Oh bloody hell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PunkOfLinux (870955) <mewshi@mewshi.com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:33PM (#14563946) Homepage
    oh, guess i better take the music I'VE made (which is free and legally distributable) out of there too, because i guess I (the owner of said music) have broken the law, too.
    • Re:Oh bloody hell (Score:3, Informative)

      by Stripe7 (571267)
      Well I guess this site is completely illegal then. It publishes copyrighted works on the net and makes it freely downloadable.

      http://www.baen.com/library/defaultTitles.htm [baen.com]
    • Re:Oh bloody hell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:35PM (#14564754)
      They're only saying you shouldn't configure your system to upload files that you can't legally upload.

      I realize the blog doesn't explicitly state that, but come on. You're just choosing the most outlandish interpretation of a vague statement so you can ridicule it. Or do you really think they're arguing copyright holders can't distribute their own files?

      • Re:Oh bloody hell (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:58PM (#14565148)
        You're just choosing the most outlandish interpretation of a vague statement so you can ridicule it.

        Note: lawyers never, ever do this. Ever. Because that would just be unethical.

        do you really think they're arguing copyright holders can't distribute their own files?

        Let me explain this because you have apparently spent the last century in a cave... on Mars... with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears.

        Yes. You see, thanks to the way our legal system is constructed, many things that most people would consider absurd or, at the very least, counterintuitive, are in fact true in a legal sense. For instance, you don't actually own any CDs or DVDs, you have, in fact, leased the content on them when you paid for them.

        In other news, you can be legally innocent of a crime but still, somehow, civilly liable for it.

        Somewhere in this country, at this very moment, a lawyer is arguing that black is, in fact, a shade of gray... that ketchup is a vegetable... that pulling your fingernails out with pliers isn't torture...

        Now you think about what you said.
      • Re:Oh bloody hell (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @12:54AM (#14565345) Journal
        Ah, but the mere fact that they can't sue for distributing your own files under current law doesn't mean that this isn't the RIAA's endgame. My theory? They look with envy at trade union laws that make it illegal to do certain types of construction work (generally with exceptions for your own home) without being a member of a trade guild, having been certified by a particular commercial certifying agency, whatever, and similarly look with envy at commercial standards bodies whose standards get signed into law by reference, but which are only available for a sizable fee from those standards bodies.

        If you think for one -minute- that if the RIAA had the power make it illegal for people to distribute their own music on their own, they wouldn't create those restrictions in a heartbeat without a second thought, you're nuts. Just watch. I figure it won't be long before they try to pass laws that say things like:

        To prevent damage to the public good through the deceptive sale of inferior quality music in the form of {CDs, digital downloads, *}, no person shall distribute such content for sale without first being at least at the journeyman level (or equivalent) in the AFM trade union (or insert some other similar union here; I'm not picking on AFM or anything...).

        To further prevent similar damage through the sale of inferior quality recordings, no label shall release music in these forms without applying all relevant RIAA standards during the production, sale, and distribution of this recording. These standards are available for free for RIAA members, or may be licensed for the reasonable fee of $250,000 per annum from the RIAA.

        It's just a matter of time. Make no mistake. These suits were never about piracy. They were about control. They are losing control, and they are grasping at every last little bit of grass at the edge of the cliff trying to avoid falling over it. Won't help. The end is near.

      • Re:Oh bloody hell (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fizzl (209397)
        Well, uh. Actually. There's an interesting quirk in Finnish music distribution system.
        I'm a member of Teosto and Gramex. (First one is like RIAA, the second one is kinda like national evil publisher or something. You become a member of both when you register a recording.)
        I have one registered demo tape from 1994 or something. I couldn't publish those songs from my server for free even if I wanted to. Gramex collects the radio and other presentation fees of music, and thus I'd have to pay them 20c or somethi
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) <.akaimbatman. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:34PM (#14563951) Homepage Journal
    ...the sky is blue, dogs still bark, cats meow, and down is still down.

    I mean, really. What did you expect them to argue? "Oh, yes, we can't prove that they ever actually distributed a copy, so let's let all the nasty pirates go and we'll stop our campaign of lawsuits. Cherrio!"

    Let's be serious here.
    • ...the sky is blue, dogs still bark, cats meow, and down is still down.

      Inna godda da vida baby!

      What did you expect them to argue?

      Free music for the people of Earth... man.

  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Funny)

    by graveyardduckx (735761) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:35PM (#14563962)
    So now owning Windows is illegal due to the default shares enabled! I hope the slashdotters are happy about this one!
  • Thoughtcrime? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The evil non-flying (947059) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:35PM (#14563966)
    Somedays I get the sinking feeling Orwell was an optimist.
    • Re:Thoughtcrime? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306)
      Somedays I get the sinking feeling Orwell was an optimist.

      Agreed. I mean, just look at the instant SlashThink(TM) reaction around here. From the venhemence, you'd think the judge had actually accepted the argument.
    • Re:Thoughtcrime? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:44PM (#14564039)
      Or perhaps that we are already living in his society and just fail to realise it...?

      His work was a metaphor or a possiblity. We could already be living it, it just looks different.

      Instead of the ominous TV screen, we have cable Sport, Xbox and DVDs.

      Instead of a "father figure" telling our kids how to behave we have Britney(TM) or, more correctly, RIAA & MPAA?

      Instead of factories where the poor go to work and large, souless offices for the rich we have....oh wait...
    • Re:Thoughtcrime? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Storm (2856)
      If the MPAA and RIAA had their way, every time you thought about a scene in a movie or every time you got a song stuck in your head, they would be able to charge and eventually sue (because just charging you won't make their bottom line look as good as getting random individuals to settle for thousands...

      --Storm
  • by killdozer3k (779295) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:35PM (#14563969)
    Simply author a file that you are the copy holder and then sue them for restraint of trade or insterstate commerce problems. Who are they to restrain trade?
    • The problem is the words "sue them". That implies that you say, have 10 million dollars or so to see the lawsuit throught. I mean, even if they are clearly at fault (which they would be, IMHO but IANAL), and even if they strangle a litter of adorable puppies on live coast-to-coast TV, they still have armies of lawyers to throw up every motion imaginable and 50 counter suits that while baseless, would force you to hire a whole law firm. So unless you had major, major backing, you'd run out of money first.
      • You don't need 10 million dollars to sue someone in small claims court. You don't even need ten. If you're that poor, the judge will waive court filings fees etc.

        And every knows that you don't strangle a litter of adorable puppies. You put them in a sack and drown them.
    • I think you are misreading the article. By "regardless of the legality of the file", what they mean is that you're not permitted to share a file you have a legal right to a personal copy of but no legal right to share.

      If you author a file and the content within it, you can do anything you like with it.

      If you make a fair use copy of a song, then put the song in a shared location, they are arguing it's the same as burning a whole stack of "fair use" copies of a CD to CD-R and then leaving them on your doorste
  • First Amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by auspiv (769470) <auspiv@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:35PM (#14563972)
    Doesn't the first amendment give us the right to free speech? Couldn't that be applied here to give us the right to put files up for sharing on our computers if the material isn't copyrighted? It might just be me... but I think this is breaching our rights.
    • Couldn't that be applied here to give us the right to put files up for sharing on our computers if the material isn't copyrighted?

      The summary is misleading. Clicking the /. link, and a link from that page, leads to the actual story [digitalmusicnews.com]. There, it states that (paraphrasing) the RIAA's position is that makingcopyrighted files available for sharing (at least those for which you don't have the permission to distribute), is a violation of copyright law.

      Given that, it will still be interesting to see how the courts
      • Re:First Amendment (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LegendLength (231553)
        It seems like a huge stretch in interpretation of copyright law ...

        I wonder about that because, after all, copyright's purpose is to prevent unauthorized transfer from one person to another. It would seem that by exposing a work to a network that is built soley for transferring information, you are reasonably breaking copyright law.

        To put it another way, take away your dislike for copyright law itself, and imagine the work is something that you really would like to keep from being transferred without autho
    • Re:First Amendment (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      Doesn't the first amendment give us the right to free speech?

      Norman Rockwell in illustrating FDR's Four Freedoms [nrm.org] chose a New England town meeting to symbolize "Freedom of Speech."

      The primary meaning of free speech in the American mind has always been defined as open political debate without fear of governmental interference or retaliation.

      You are responsible for the files you share. That goes beyond the law of copyright. Libel is not protected speech. Obscenity is not protected speech. The whole of the

  • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:37PM (#14563983)
    The article links to a blog (Techdirt) that says exactly the same thing as the Slashdot post. The Techdirt post links to another blog (Digital Music News) which says about the same thing, though at least apparently the Techdirt poster had the decency to reword the summary. There are no links to any even semi-credible source (like, say, the documents where they supposedly said this.)

    Could Slashdot at least wait until there's actually some proof before posting this crap?

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:01PM (#14564158) Journal
      http://www.lifeofalawyer.com/riaa/atlantic_does1-2 5_rogersaffidavit.pdf [lifeofalawyer.com]

      Teh Google CacheL http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:www.lifeofala wyer.com/riaa/atlantic_does1-25_rogersaffidavit.pd f+%22making+files+available+for+distribution%22 [64.233.167.104]

      They've said this type of thing before, in public and obviously have said it in court filings.

      In Public: They aren't trying to make a nuanced argument. They just want to get the point across that sharing files = teh badness

      In Court: Fucking n00bs. That's what they get for not trying to get across a nuanced idea to the public. The lawyers end up making the same argument they see over and over in the press releases.

      I skimmed that affidavit and I wonder how that trial came out. It seems like the plaintiff (an RIAA company) filed a seriously defective lawsuit.
      • OK, I've now looked at that too. That document is not one filed by the RIAA, rather, it is from the lawyer who represents one of the people sued by them. Actual quote from the document:

        As mentioned above, the complaint alleges three forms of activity purportedly constituting copyright infringement - (1) downloading copyrighted files, (2) distributing such files to the public, and/or (3) making such files available for distribution to others.

        From the context of the rest of the paper, it is quite clear th

        • In other words, your document doesn't show them saying anything like what is claimed by this story. How about you actually find one that does?

          They can't. The claim in the story summary is obviously a miscommunication of what you quoted: that the RIAA thinks it's bad to make available for download content that they own the copyright to. This looked likely even before you so kindly posted the actual original source.

          This game of "telephone" is really unfortunate, because the RIAA's claim in its original fo

    • The Digital Music News blogger, Ray Beckerman, claims to be a defence attorney in the case in which the RIAA made this argument. I'd rate this as at least a semi-credible source.
      • The Digital Music News blogger, Ray Beckerman, claims to be a defence attorney in the case in which the RIAA made this argument. I'd rate this as at least a semi-credible source.
        Yeah, because lawyers are known for always being truthful. Unless, of course, they're hired by somebody you don't like, in which case they're scum-sucking parasites. If the RIAA actually claimed this, then why didn't he at least quote their words?
    • Yeah I got burned by something like this just recently, where Bush apparently helped make it illegal to "annoy" people online according to a supposedly credible blog (online columnist = blogger, right?). I spouted off about how ridiculous and unfair it was, and then had to stick my foot in my mouth when I actually read the damn law, which I now believe the writer had completely misinterpreted.

      So I'd like to see a transcript or whatever of RIAA's actual argument. I'm no fan of RIAA, but I'm leary any time
  • If the person putting the file up doesn't have copyright permission to do so, then yes it is a violation.

    Just like it is a violation for me to photocopy a book and attempt to distribute the photocopy.

    gah.
  • Info (Score:5, Informative)

    by mendaliv (898932) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:39PM (#14563996)
    The case in question is Elektra v. Barker, and here's some of the legal docs and stuff.

    Complaint [digitalmusicnews.com]
    Exhibit A [digitalmusicnews.com]
    Exhibit B, Part 1 [digitalmusicnews.com]
    Exhibit B, Part 2 [digitalmusicnews.com]
  • Slippery Slope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ClamIAm (926466)
    I see where this is going. If there is a file sitting on my hard drive with no DRM, it can be "distributed" by being used by two different operating systems (dual-booting). Or you can set up a share to stream music over your LAN. Or if you connect an external drive to another computer (and not copying it to the other one), does that count as "distribution"?

    You can probably guess what the answer is.

  • by msauve (701917) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:40PM (#14564002)
    The file at http://www.riaa.com/images/pics/pic2.jpg [riaa.com], which is served by their web site?
  • anyone got a link with any damn context? the links above seem to be just someone stating something out of context.

    I hahe a feeling that in context it means files that are violating copyrights.
  • Look... (Score:5, Funny)

    by HunterZ (20035) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:42PM (#14564018) Journal
    Dear RIAA,

    Let me make this simple for you: I learned on Sesame Street that sharing is GOOD. It's going to be more difficult than you think to reprogram the inner-workings of my psyche that were molded by watching educational television as a child in the 80s.

    Sincerely,
    Me
    • It's even more difficult for me ... I received my programming back in the 1960's.
    • Re:Look... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shark72 (702619)

      "Let me make this simple for you: I learned on Sesame Street that sharing is GOOD."

      Looks like that took precedent over the Golden Rule in your household. For the uninformed, that's "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." It's in the Bible but it's a sentiment shared across lots of cultures and you don't need to be a Christian or even religious to understand its value.

      The golden rule applies to music sharing thusly: if you know that the artist is cool with you sharing their stuff, and they h

      • Re:Look... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by meringuoid (568297)
        If you suspect that the artist would not want you distributing their stuff, or helping yourself to a copy without paying it, then DON'T. Why? The golden rule. You would not want the artist to ignore your wishes.

        Very well, now let's apply the Golden Rule to sharing of toys as per Sesame Street:

        Cool Toy Co. would very much prefer it if every kid who wanted to play with Cool Toy bought their own. Therefore you shouldn't share your Cool Toy; only you are licensed to play with it, and your friends should buy

  • as someone might see my cd collection and then steal it when I'm not home. Then I'd be guilty of piracy as I didn't do enough to protect the music I bought from being shared legally or illegaly.

    So now here's one for you. Say I beak into someones car/house and I get busted with their cd collection. Can the record companies now sue me for stealing music? I didnt pay for it.
    • Here's another one for you. One of the reasons for fair use is making backup copies of purchased works. If the originals of such works are stolen from the owner, did the backup copies just become illegal? Can I back up my backups in order to maintain the same level of loss protection? Can any lawyers answer that one? Capt. Kangarooski ... you out there?
  • by henrythehorse (935734) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:54PM (#14564110)
    The post seems to imply that putting anything on the web or in a shared folder is under attack. Not so. And clearly many responders also didn't bother to RTFA.

    Putting _copyrighted_ files (for which you don't have a license to distribute) on the web or in a shared folder is under attack. The only "news" here is that they're arguing that you may have committed a crime before the first download of your pirated mp3 occurred.

    You may all hate the RIAA, but you have to admit that putting Kelly Clarkson's new single in your shared folder is different than putting your own jpg's on the web.

    • by drawfour (791912) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:37PM (#14565065)
      I'm just pulling this from deep, but I don't think that copyright infringement is a criminal offense. This link [copyright.gov] indicates what is required to be considered "criminal", which means copyright infringment is normally a civil matter.

      Assuming this is true, I don't think that intent is enough for a judgement. In a criminal case, intent to steal, intent to murder, intent to deal drugs, etc... are all crimes in and of themselves, and have penalties associated with them. I don't think that intent in this case is on the books as being against the law in any way, it's just the act itself.

      Of course, I could have a misunderstanding of what is required for "intent" to be illegal, but it's just an idea. Feel free to poke holes in this argument, people. :)
  • Of course they're going to argue any point concerning distribution, no matter how silly. The RIAA doesn't make anything. They distribute (at least, that's what they used to do anyways). And since that's their bread and butter, they're going to defend it. No matter how bizarre their argument. No matter how silly their logic. They're used to getting huge ungodly piles of money for doing nothing. And anything that could possibly be used to set a precedent would be a lot like the very first tiny hole pok

  • by macdaddy (38372) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:00PM (#14564155) Homepage Journal
    What's next, getting a speeding ticket for having a car that's capable of violating the speed limit? Being sued for copyright infringement when renting a DVD for simply owning a DVD burner? I mean you could make a copy of said DVD. We'd better proactively defend ourselves against this threat....
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:07PM (#14564203)
    One little-heard story in the West is concerned with how many Polish workers fought back against communism during the last 1970s and early 1980s. I think it may hold relevent in America these days, since the oppressor is quite the same (even if it's called called an "industry association", rather than a "government").

    Since many Polish workers were limited in what they could write, they couldn't necessarily make signs or posters. So what they did was launch mass verbal assaults. Not a protest, per se, since they were still working or going about their everyday lives. As they were building ships, or working in a factory, or while heading to work, they would sing chants.

    The songs/chants were quite varied. One particular song basically translated to: "We are the people. United we stand." Over and over they would repeat those verses. Other times they were just overtly obscene. Chants which translate to "Penis, anus, defecation!" were commonplace.

    Would such protests work in American record stores, for instance?

  • The real problem here is that making the act of placing copyrighted material in a shared folder a crime is just another way to ensnare more technically naive people. Most computer users really don't understand the difference between a shared folder and one that is not, to say nothing of all the different ways that said sharing can be configured. This gets even more complicated when one considers all of the compromised PCs out there doing things their owners have no clue about. Making the lack of understandi
  • Windows? (Score:4, Funny)

    by darkain (749283) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:29PM (#14564332) Homepage
    Next thing you know, the MPAA will make it illegal to watch movies in your living room, because someone might watch the movie from the window.
  • I am a lawyer. I have actually read parts of the Grokster and Gonzalez opinions. Although I did not read the opinions with the same care I would have if for professional purposes, Gonzalez certainly seemed to quote Grokster as supporting the proposition that merely having files in a shared folder was sufficiently part of a scheme to distribute to be the equivalent of actual distribution. In other words, it would not be a defense in a suit by the **AA that no one downloaded a complete copy of the file fro
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:30PM (#14564344) Homepage
    Most of the posters here so far have been flying off the handle over nothing.

    One of the links in the story post tells us [digitalmusicnews.com] that the cases is Elektra v. Barker. While we don't yet seem to have the argument referenced there in front of us, we do have the original complaint from about mid-2005, here [digitalmusicnews.com], thanks to one of the few people that's posted here whilst keeping there wits about them.

    Basically RIAA is merely saying that Barker ran Kazaa, and was sharing some music with it. They're suing her for having done so.

    Copyright does include an exclusive right of distribution (17 USC 106(3)) which has frequently been held to cover serving files. And just to preempt some people who will surely latch on to that, note that there are many different rights within copyright, and this is but one of them. Making copies of files, which necessarily happens when you download, is also covered under copyright, and can be infringing as well.

    Obviously the RIAA is not saying -- as many people here assume -- that putting any file on a server is illegal. That's beyond even them. What they are saying is that where the files are copyrighted, and the copyright holder hasn't authorized it, and there's no applicable exception in copyright that would permit it, then it's illegal. Certainly as a civil offense, and possibly also as a criminal offense. (Compare 17 USC 501 with 506 and 18 USC 2319)

    So if Alice writes a book and puts it on the Internet for anyone to download, that's fine. If she puts a public domain book on the Internet for people to download, that's fine too. But when she puts up Bob's book, without permission, she's got some trouble.

    So far this seems to be an amazingly boring case. And, if the facts are as RIAA says, it's probably open-and-shut in their favor. Like it or lump it, copyright suits are generally pretty simple.

    So what could be interesting about this? Well, and I'm just guessing here, since I have not seen anything recent about this from the plaintiff, I suspect that the plaintiff said that making the files available to be shared via Kazaa was unlawful distribution, even if no one ever downloaded the files.

    This runs contrary to another case, where the court held that an offer to distribute (which is what placing a file in a share is) is not actual distribution, and that only the latter is unlawful. So RIAA or another plaintiff has to catch a defendant actually serving the file to someone. I would not expect that it matters who it is served to. If the copyright holder were to download it themselves, in order to gather evidence, that would probably suffice. (And before someone claims entrapment, let me remind you that that only applies where one is coerced into doing something that one would not have otherwise done. If you were going to share the file with anyone who requested to download it, then the fact that you did so with the wrong person is bad luck for you, but won't get you off the hook)

    If the plaintiff never d/l'ed the file, then this also raises the question of whether the files were actually copies of the music in question, or if they were just labeled that way. Given that the plaintiff appears to have the file listings in hand, they'll probably win this. In a civil suit, which this is, the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. It is not the beyond a reasonable doubt standard reserved for criminal suits. In this case, reasonable doubts as to the facts will not save the defendant; instead whatever is felt to be most likely, even if only by a hair's breadth, is considered the truth. In my experience, when someone (other than RIAA et al) puts up a file claiming to be an mp3 of a song, it usually is.

    All told, it seems like a humdrum case that is not worth getting worked up about (unless you think P2P of this sort should be legal, in which case lots of cases are worth getting worked up about). There
    • A couple years ago, CMU tried scanning for students with CIFS servers with simple passwords containing potentially-copyrighted files. I was somewhat perturbed by this.

      The question is where exactly this ends.
    • A well researched post on the RIAA has no business here! This is slashdot, the only acceptable response is rabid hysterical postings making reference to 1984, ideally with only most fleeting acquaintance with both TFA and the Orwell book.

      As an aside, does anyone know how to filter slashdot so that silly stuff like "OMG the RIAA tried to stop kazaa!! to the barricades!!" doesn't appear? This isn't news and it doesn't matter.
  • ...make books available for distribution, don't they?
    • But who takes books from a public library? Nobody I know, because people either no longer read or they do not like the censored offer in public libraries. Distributing stuff from the RIAA monopoly seems to be the new national pastime. Perhaps the public libraries should offer classes in file sharing to attract new members.
  • by Bullfish (858648) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:45PM (#14564450)
    They tried this argument in court in Canada. The judge ruled that the simple act of putting a file in a shared folder is neither in and of itself intent, nor illegal. And the ruling has stood.
  • Don't leave your newspaper on the subway to share with others. The copyright nazis will beat the crap out of you in the middle of the street if you do.
  • and you can't touch me unless you can prove someone actually downloaded them. Or you can side with the RIAA.
  • The RIAA is all about entertainment. More, please!
  • Mod story as troll (Score:4, Insightful)

    by d_jedi (773213) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:26PM (#14565005)
    I think this story qualifies as a strawman..
    The story makes it sound like if you put *any* files into a shared folder, you're breaking the law. This is not the case.

    What the RIAA is really arguing is that if you place files into a shared folder that, if distributed, would constitute illegal distribution.. the act of making these files (which would be illegal if distributed) available for distribution by placing them in a shared folder is illegal.

    Now, I don't see how they'd be able to actually prove the files were, in fact, files that would be illegal for the person to distribute unless the RIAA downloaded them (meaning the files were distributed).

    Just remember kiddies,
    if you distort something to make it more absurd than it really is..
    OF COURSE it's going to sound absurd!
  • Suckers! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Digital Vomit (891734) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:48PM (#14565114) Homepage Journal
    This means that regardless of the legality of a file somebody has on their computer, just putting it in a shared files folder that can be accessed by other people is illegal.

    Suckers! I put my shared files into a directory!

  • by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @02:43AM (#14565648) Homepage Journal
    Let's try a reasoning.
    - Web content is made by files.
    - The web is a technology to share, distribute and access contents.
    - Thus the web should be illegal.
    Very good!
  • Does this mean? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TallMatthew (919136) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @03:42AM (#14565759)
    If I take the CDs in my collection I don't like and put them outside my apartment so anyone on the street can pick them up, I'm breaking the law?

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