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Canada Puts Arctic Chill On Music Industry

I found this quite interesting....
Kevin in VT

Canada Puts Arctic Chill On Music Industry


By Cynthia L. Webb
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, April 1, 2004; 10:01 AM

Tired of being harassed by suits from the recording industry just because you
want to share some free music online? Go to Canada.

A Canadian federal judge essentially ruled yesterday that song-swapping in the
Great White North is legal. The decision throws a curve ball at the music
business, which has been ramping up its international efforts this week to
thwart online music piracy. The most notable example is the International
Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which started taking legal action
against hundreds of suspected European file sharers. The Recording Industry
Association of America (RIAA) also has been on a lawsuit binge since last
. Federal Court of Canada ruling (PDF)

USA Today noted that "[w]hile two courts -- in Denmark and the USA -- ruled in
favor of file-sharing services in the past, Canadian Judge Konrad von
Finckenstein is the first to OK the actions of file sharers." The Globe and
Mail reported that the decision "went far beyond privacy issues, dealing a
huge blow to the Canadian music industry and its efforts to stop Internet
users from sharing music files. Mr. Justice Konrad von Finckenstein ruled
yesterday that the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) failed in
all respects to make a case for requiring Internet companies to turn over the
identities of big music downloaders."

Indeed, the ruling gives a nod to file-swappers and gives the peer-to-peer
community fresh ammunition to fend off legal volleys from the recording
industry. Nevertheless, media coverage is already pointing out that the
ruling's legal impact here in the United States could be minimal if not nil.

"Canadian law isn't binding," New York copyright attorney Whitney Broussard
told USA Today "But you could see lawyers here making the same kind of
arguments and pointing to the Canadian decision."
. USA Today: Canadian Judge Says Swapping Songs Online Is Legal
. Canada's Globe and Mail: Ruling Deals Blow To Music Industry
. The Associated Press via washingtonpost.com: Canada Rules Against File
Sharing Suits (Registration required)

The Los Angeles Times said "Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor
who specializes in Internet law, said Von Finckenstein's ruling could
eliminate the music industry's ability to sue individual Canadians. File
sharers in other countries may not find similar protection, he said, noting
that Canadian copyright law carves out an exemption for copying music for
private use."

The paper also reported that Judge von Finckenstein's "legal blessing was an
unexpected setback to the music industry's expanding international effort to
stop free and unauthorized downloads. But experts said the judge's ruling
hinged on elements of Canadian law not found in many other countries

CRIA General Counsel Richard Pfohl in a statement picked up by CNET's News.com
said: "In our view, the copyright law in Canada does not allow people to put
hundreds or thousands of music files on the Internet for copying, transmission
and distribution to millions of strangers."

BBC News reported more details on how the case in Canada originated. "Canada's
music industry, the sixth largest in the world, had been encouraged to take
action following the success of anti-piracy crackdowns in the US. The
companies claim music swapping costs them millions of dollars in lost sales
every year," the news service said. "Firms including EMI and Universal wanted
the courts in Canada to order internet service providers to give them the
names of 29 alleged large-scale offenders. But Judge [von Finckenstein], of
Canada's Federal Court, stressed that online music swapping did not constitute
commercial distribution."
. BBC News Online: Judge Blocks Online Piracy Action
. CNET's News.com: Judge File-Sharing Legal In Canada

Canadian Sensibilities