The Record Industry Suffers Major Setbacks In Three Separate Decisions

January 2004

Record Labels, Music Publishers, Internet

The record and music publishing industries have been jolted by three separate decisions from Canada, The Netherlands and the United States of America, all of which create problems in applying copyright law to the personal use of downloaded music files, and P2P file swapping.
Firstly, the Canadian Copyright Board has ruled that the personal dowloading of files from the Internet is not illegal in Canada (although the provision of such a service would remain so). Whilst an unusual decision, Canada does have a system of blank tape, software and hardware levies which consumers pay, and alongside this also has an exemption for the personal use of music (contained in the Canadian Copyright Act). In a separate matter, in a case brought by Canadian collection society SOCAN, the Canadian music and telecommunications industries are also awaiting the appeals court’s decision in the Tariff 22 case regarding the liability of telecom and Internet service providers for music downloading.
The Canadian ruling was followed by two separate decisions where courts also ruled against industry bodies.
In Amsterdam, the Netherlands Supreme Court rejected a case against Kazaa, the popular file-sharing program – ruling that the company cannot be held liable for the swapping of copyrighted music, movies and programs by users. The Court upheld an earlier appeals court verdict rejecting a suit filed by the Dutch music publisher societies Buma/Stemra.
Finally, in the USA, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) faced a substantial setback in its efforts to stop music piracy when a Federal Appeals Court ruled that the RIAA cannot force ISPs to reveal the names and mailing addresses of alleged music swappers on their networks. By overturning a lower court’s decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit eliminated a powerful tool used by the RIAA under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 to learn the identities of computer users and to subsequently sue them for illegally downloading copyrighted music.

Further details of these decisons and industry comment will be found in future Law Updates. Meanwhile, for further information see:,0,816665.story?coll=bal-news-nation

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