Wednesday, March 31, 2004

FCC Copyright decision re: music file downloading

I was somewhat surprised at the outcome of today's Federal Court of Canada decision In the Matter of BMG Canada Inc. et al v. Jane Doe et al, 2004 FC 488. The decision regards individuals using P2P (peer to peer) file sharing software to store sound files containing music. Copyright wasn't infringed, according to paragraphs 26 and 27, because there was no evidence sound recordings were distributed or reproductions authorized. The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision CCH Canada Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2004 SCC 13 was cited. The Hon. Mr. Justice von Finckenstein states: "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." Until recently we trod a fine line having photocopiers available in libraries, and we are now used as a copyright law analogy. Things seem to be swinging slightly back in favour of the individual users after being heavily on the side of the creators for the last few years.

Also at issue in the decision were the privacy rights of the individuals doing the music downloading--whether their ISPs would be forced to identify them. I'm comforted to know the FCC looked at this critically, carefully considered the intentions of PIPEDA, and decided, even if they needed to be identified for the purposes of this case, those names would be kept confidential in the court records. In the end it was not necessary for these individuals to be identified.

**Please remember I am a law librarian, not a lawyer. These are my personal opinions and should be construed neither as interpretation of the law nor as legal advice. So there!**

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