COPYRIGHT
Record Labels

The recording industry has announced the first positive results from its international deterrence campaign against illegal file-sharing and warned that a new wave of litigation will take place in new countries within months. The results show that legal awareness among the European public has increased and the number of pirate files on the internet has fallen steadily. Meanwhile, the number of legal sites where consumers can buy music has risen to over 100 globally – five times the number of one year ago. Legal cases have been concluded in Denmark and Germany, with 17 Danish individuals agreeing to pay compensation averaging several thousand euros. A 23 year old German file-sharer is to pay compensation of 8,000 euros: He had 6,000 MP3 files on his computer and 70 CDs containing further files In Italy, 30 individuals have been charged with copyright infringement. The IFPI has confirmed plans to extend the litigation internationally. A further 24 legal actions are being announced today against individuals in Denmark. Other countries such as France, Sweden and the UK have already launched high-profile warning campaigns that they will prosecute file-sharers if necessary. Seven out of ten people in France, UK, Denmark and Germany are now aware that file-sharing copyright music without permission is illegal (70% on average compared to 66% before the start of the campaign). The impact has been greatest in the under-30s age group responsible for the majority of file-sharing. A separate survey in France showed that consumer awareness of the illegality of unauthorised file-sharing increased from 59% in January to 73% in May 2004. This followed a high profile warning campaign in newspapers and media across the country in April, carrying the slogan: “Free Music has a Price”. In Italy, 45% of surveyed file-sharers say they expect to stop over the next three months (twice the number before the campaign started). In Germany, France and Denmark public confidence in the effectiveness of litigation has risen (59% say the campaign will work, compared to 55% in December).

The number of infringing music files on the internet stands at 800 million, down from 900 million in January 2004 and down 27% from a peak of 1.1 billion files in June 2003. The number of infringing music files available on peer-to-peer networks has fallen to 700 million, 100 million less than in January 2004 and 30% down on the June 2003 peak of 1 billion. Traffic on legitimate online music sites has increased dramatically over the last year. Pan-European online music provider OD2 reports average monthly music downloads at over 500,000 in first quarter of 2004 rising by 27% in May 2004. Over 300,000 songs are available in Europe, with 700,000 available in the UK following the launch of Napster in May. Registered users on online sites in Europe, according to OD2, rose from 380,000 at the end of September 2003 to 830,000 in March 2004.
Source : http://www.ifpi.org

COMMENT : The IFPI and Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) related actions in the US are clearly having some success in reducing the level of peer-2-peer file swapping and downloading. At the same time other copyright owners such as broadcasters and the film studio are also using copyright law to protect their rights. The recent action against 321 software and actions against ISP’s are good examples of this. However the copyright industry also spends a lot of time, effort and money seeking to persuade governments and regulators to amend laws to protect their core businesses. But not everyone is happy with all of the efforts made by rights owners. John Naughton (Networker, the Observer 13th June 2004) writes that whilst broadcasters might feel that their recent efforts to persuade the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to provide new treaty provisions ‘protecting’ broadcasters and broadcasting signals, others might read such ‘protection’ as ‘ unprecedented, restrictive and anti social powers’. A recent example is the RIAA’s moves to restrict digital radio. Digital radio broadcasts bring CD-quality sound to the airwaves but the RIAA fear that this could lead to unfettered song copying if protections are not put in place. Without copy protections, music fans could cherry-pick songs off the air and redistribute them over the Internet, further deepening the copyright woes of record labels argues the RIAA. Under restrictions proposed by the RIAA, listeners would be able to record digital broadcasts for later playback, but would not be able to divide that broadcast up into individual songs. Listeners would also not be able to program their players to record certain songs, or redistribute those recordings over the Internet. The RIAA plans to submit its proposal to the Federal Communications Commission. The RIAA argues that U.S. regulators should ensure that the broadcast format limits such copying so radio stations don’t turn the airwaves into a giant file-sharing network, RIAA officials said. But Naughton argues that the ‘control freakery’ in the broadcast and media industries undermine many of the public’s rights under existing copyright laws. New laws would, he suggests, eliminate the general right to record off air without the permission of the broadcaster (so called ‘time-shifting’ to view at one’s own leisure), or to make back up copies of software or to copy from one medium to another – for example DVD to tape. Naughton argues that technology empowers consumers making them less passive but points out this is something quite alien to rights owners. He goes on to say that ‘experience over the last decade has shown us how established industries react when they are threatened by new technology; First they go into denial. Then they resort to legal countermeasures – which invariably fail. Finally they nobble legislators seeking to persuade them to enact laws which will protect old business models. Its an interesting argument; clearly record labels, broadcasters and the movie studios are going to pursue every avenue open to them to protect their copyrights. But one does wonder if in the frenzy of lobbying and legislation carried out in the interests of commerce not only are the very benefits of new technologies being legislated against but that the interests and rights of the consumer are being forgotten.

A Law Unto Themselves John Naughton The Observer 14 June 2004 www.briefhistory.com/footnotes/

RIAA Targets Digital Radio : www.dvd-recordable.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1347&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

see Movie Studios Continue to Fight Against De-Encryption Technology below