Economic Rationales for File Sharing Suits

In the Social Affairs Unit Weblog, economist Tyler Cower examines Why the music industry is suing you, your neighbour, or your child

Why has the music industry throughout Europe decided to sue hundreds of those sharing music files on the Internet? Tyler Cowen – Professor of Economics at George Mason University and author of Creative Destruction: How Globalization Is Changing the World’s Cultures, What Price Fame?, and In Praise of Commercial Culture – argues here that it is not an attempt to scare off the downloaders, similar suits in the US have not stopped illegal file-sharing. Rather, Prof. Cowen argues, it is ‘about spreading the idea that downloading is wrong and illegal… think of the lawsuits as one way to buy space in the newspaper, but without paying advertising rates.’

American Detained Over VoIP in Belarus

In Belarus, an employee of the Soros Foundation Open Society Institute was detained for causing damage to the country’s telecommunications providers and for “working as an entrepreneur without registration or permission. Interfax reports: U.S. citizen suspected of causing $100,000 damage in Belarus

U.S. citizen Ilya Mafter, who was detained in Belarus, is believed to have caused about $100,000 in damage to the country’s communications providers, sources in the State Security Committee’s information center told Interfax on Tuesday.

The damage to the communications providers? Possibly routing around them by using VoIP. Ethan Zuckerman: Arrest over VOIP in Belarus

I find myself wondering whether his alleged fraud of VELCOM (the national cellphone company) was his use of Skype to make phonecalls home, or to his office. Ilya is a Skype fan, and I can imagine how the twisted logic of the Belarusian KGB could turn demonstrating Skype to a Belarusian NGO into “damaging” the national infrastructure, by showing people how to avoid absurd call charges.

Record Industry Sues Files Sharers in Europe and the UK

The IFPI and BPI join the RIAA and sue indivdual file sharers: Record industry steps up action against illegal music file-sharing and urges people to buy legally online

The music industry today announced a major escalation of its campaign against illegal file-sharing, unveiling 459 legal actions against music “uploaders” and for the first time targeting Europe’s two largest music markets, the UK and France.
Announcing the actions on behalf of the recording industry worldwide, IFPI warned that the rolling campaign will be further stepped up and extended into new countries in the coming months. It called on music fans to buy their music online legitimately, rather than risk the legal consequences of illegal file-sharing. There are now over 100 legal online music sites in Europe offering a total of over one million music tracks.

DMCA Down Under?

Wired News: U.S. Exports DMCA Down Under

Australia appears ready to adopt U.S-style copyright laws, courtesy of a Free Trade Agreement deal negotiated between the two countries
But the agreement has some Australian civil liberties advocates and lawyers crying foul. They say it’s nothing more than a money-grab by the powerful U.S. copyright owners lobby, and claim the Australian government has sold consumers’ rights to media conglomerates in the United States for dubious trade concessions in other industries.

Yahoo and the crepes of wrath

In Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme et L’Antisemitisme, the Ninth Circuit held that US courts have no personal jurisdiction over two French groups which obtained a judgment in France prohibiting Yahoo from holding auctions of Nazi memorabilia under French law.
Law.com: On Appeal, Anti-Nazi Groups Topple Yahoo
Susan Crawford: Ninth Circuit Gets It Wrong in Yahoo!

Although the Grokster opinion was clearly right, yesterday’s Yahoo! decision [pdf] is weak as a matter of both law and policy.
We have declaratory judgment proceedings to avoid the situation where someone who is acting like they want to enforce their rights can constrain the activities of someone else.The court can issue a declaration saying “yes, these rights should be enforced,” or “no, these rights shouldn’t be enforced,” without waiting for the threatening actor to actually ask for their rights to be enforced.

Russian Ringtone Rights

Pravda reports: Russian musician protects his intellectual property rights

The leader of the popular Russian rock group “Leningrad”, Sergei Shnurov, has won the case of intellectual property rights violation. The court has ruled that S.B.A. Music Publishing, a subsidiary of the Gala Records company, pay 100,000 rubles to Sergei Shnurov for violating his intellectual property rights by issuing a permission for mobile phone companies to use Shnurov’s music for mobile phones and karaoke, Gazeta reports.

(via IPKat)

Canada: ISPs are like common carriers

In Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada v. Canadian Association of Internet Providers, 2004 SCC 45 (Jun. 30, 2004), the Supreme Court of Canada examines whether ISPs are liable for copyright royalties.
First, the court examines when the Copyright Act should apply to international internet transmissions. A “real and substantial connection to Canada” is sufficient to apply the Copyright Act to international Internet transmissions. Such a connection may be found by evaluating the locations of the content provider, the host server, the intermediaries and the end user.
An ISP which acts as a common carrier should not be liable for infringement in the transmissions of copyrighted works over its network:

A content provider is not immune from copyright liability by virtue only of the fact that it employs a host server outside the country. Conversely, a host server does not attract liability just because it is located in Canada. The liability of a host server should be determined by whether or not the host server limits itself to “a conduit” (or content-neutral) function.

An ISP may create a cache copy, because as a serendipitous consequence of improvements in Internet technology, it is content neutral, and “ought not to have any legal bearing on the communication between the content provider and the end user.”
Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada v. Canadian Association of Internet Providers, 2004 SCC 45 (Jun. 30, 2004)