Well, the big news today (and it doesn’t appear to be an April Fool’s Joke) is the court decision that passively making songs available for sharing over the internet is not illegal under Canadian copyright law because the user isn’t actively distributing or advertising their availability.
A few excerpts from the decision: “No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either distributed or authorized the reproduction of sound recordings. They merely placed personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users via a P2P service.”
“The mere fact of placing a copy on a shared directory in a computer where that copy can be accessed by a P2P service does not amount to distribution. Before it constitutes distribution, there must be a positive act by the owner of the shared directory, such as sending out the copies or advertising that they are available for copying. No such evidence was presented by the plaintiffs in this case. They merely presented evidence that the alleged infringers made copies available on their shared drives.”
Sites like DownhillBattle are imploring Canadians to start file-sharing like mad (“If you live in Canada, you now have a moral obligation to share major label music 24/7”). As CC readers must know by now, I’ve always been willing to share my musical taste and if you’ve met me, chances are you have probably received a number of mixed tapes or CDs over the years. File-sharing is just an extension of that sort of generosity. The fact that it’s happening on such a huge scale is threatening the old order; namely, the major record labels are teetering on the edge of irrelevance. Good riddance, I say. There are many better models for making sure that musicians are compensated fairly, and the internet can make this happen.
If you love music, support the musicians you love. This is relatively easy for us indie-rock types. Independent labels are usually fairer to their bands to begin with, but just to make sure, go and see the band live when they come to your town, and if possible, buy your CDs at the show. I guess I’m lucky in that I live in a large city and most bands eventually get up here (though I haven’t seen my boys Spoon in far too long!). If you’re not as lucky as I am, then the internet is here to help. I recommend checking out the following sites who are trying to overhaul the music “business” to make it fairer to the people who create the music: