Feeds

US beak pecks at RIAA's 'making available' filesharing attack

Rrreeeeewiiiiiiind!

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A US federal judge has shot down one of the Recording Industry Ass. of America's key arguments in its brave pursuit of students, idiots and grandmothers it accuses of sharing music over peer-to-peer networks.

In an order in the case of the Atlantic vs Howell in Arizona yesterday, Judge Neil Wake said that the RIAA's claim that making copyright sound recordings available to download counts as distribution was wrong. It means the major labels' bid to score a summary judgement victory has been denied, and the case will proceed to trial. The RIAA will have to come up with a new argument.

Pamela and Jeffrey Howell were sued by the RIAA in 2006 after the lobby group's net copyright mercenary, MediaSentry, detected their computer participating in the Kazaa peer-to-peer network. At first Judge Wake sided with the RIAA's "making available" argument, and awarded damages of more than $40,000 in a summary judgement last August.

The couple, who are representing themselves, appealed, saying they were unaware that their "personal files" had been included for sharing by their Kazaa installation. In September 2007, Judge Wake accepted their appeal and vacated his summary decision, effectively returning the case to square one.

When the battle started up again, the Howells had help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It supplied the court with a brief against the 'making available' argument, and despatched staff attorney Fred von Lohmann to provide oral evidence in March. This time Judge Wake decided that because there was no evidence anyone actually downloaded the files from the Howells' Kazaa account, distribution - and therefore copyright infringement - could not be proved.

The ruling won't neccessarily set a precedent in the hundreds of cases the RIAA is pursuing across the US. However, it certainly adds to a growing weight of federal rulings that are making the RIAA's cases against alleged filesharers a tougher sell in court. The EFF's blog hails it as a "big victory". The full order is here (pdf).

An RIAA spokeswoman told Ars Technica: "This is a strange decision that is outside of the mainstream and inconsistent with countless court rulings on these issues. We are currently considering all options going forward."

UK filesharers will note that the BPI, the record industry's British version of the RIAA, has given up on the courts, and is now hoping to clamp down on P2P via its "three strikes" regime in partnership with ISPs. The government continues to threaten providers with legislation if they don't agree to play a role in enforcement. ®

Bootnote

In his deposition testimony, Jeffrey Howell said he had indeed installed Kazaa, but that the only files he was trying to share were "pornography and free to the public software, e-books". Adult industry copyright lawyers can stand down, however, as the porn Howell sought to distribute was of an amateur flavour.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.