29 April 2006

Where do you draw the line between copyright and fair use?

Let's assume a friend asks to borrow your screwdriver. Is it legal to do that?

Now, assuming that the previous answer is: "Yes", let's ask another question: What if that friend asks if he can borrow one of your legally purchased DVDs? Is that legal?
Why wouldn't it be legal? You purchased a good (that DVD) so just like a screwdriver, you should be able to give it to your friends.

But what if you made a backup copy of that DVD? Under the DRM laws, you are able to make a copy, just in case the original gets bad.
And while the original DVD is not currently in your possession, you decide to watch the copy. Is this illegal? Maybe.
But what if you don't watch that copy while your friend has the original DVD? Then no law would be broken, as the DVD (and it's copies) are not simultaneously used.

To go a little further, let's imagine that your friend is an evil pirate, according to RIAA, and he duplicates that DVD and gives copies of it to his friends. Is that your fault? After all, he did that without your knowledge and permission. Should you be legally responsible for what your friend did?

In a similar fashion, if you place a song on a p2p network, and do NOT listen to it at the same time the people that downloaded it listen to it, that should be ok, following the DVD analogy, correct?
And if they make copies of that song, and in turn they make it available to others to download, why should you be responsible for it? You can't control what they do with the song, just like you can't force your friend not to copy your DVD.

See where I am getting?
Whenever *AA tries to extort people into a 'settlement', they threaten with a lawsuit. They want the person that has uploaded the original song (or even those who just share it) to pay for the damage caused by an unknown number of people who downloaded the song from you, and redistributed it.

Now, if *AA would ask for a reasonable compensation, based on how many songs you have that you do not own, most of the reasonable people would be OK with that.
Say, you have 1K songs that you didn't buy, so 1K USD would be a fair amount of money to pay, given the fact that you can usually buy songs for 1 USD a piece.
But paying for 50 times the value of those songs, because they assume, without any proof, that each song has been downloaded 50 times? That's really unreasonable, and I highly doubt a sane jury would award such a compensation.

Perhaps it is time for people to stand out for themselves, and tell the RIAA negociators: "Go fuck yourself, asshole!". I sure would.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on the "Go fuck yourself" part. This hole system is rediculous. What if you would use your own microfone and recorder on a live consert and then make in available to download?
In Sweden there is an interesting ideal organisation that helps paying the fines for anyone who get caught doing any copywrite violation (Not for those selling illegal material tho). So if anyone ever see someone doing fundraising for this type of organisation, pay for what its worth.

29/4/06 05:03  

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