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March 31, 2004 7:43 PM   Subscribe

So, when did Canada become the globe's official Progressive Society Laboratory? They've got the health care, they've got the gay marriage, and now, they've got 100% legal file-sharing -- a judge has ruled that not only is downloading copyrighted material legal, but sharing it is as well. Um, whoa? How long can this stand on appeal? Is anyone here a Canadian legal expert who can tell us about how Canadian copyright law differs from our own? (Tall order, I know...)
posted by logovisual (28 comments total)

 
The gist of it seems to be that you can't be charged if someone walks into your house and steals your TV.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:56 PM on March 31, 2004


One difference might be the levy placed on recordable media. The Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) has collected more than $70-million in levies placed on blank media, such as audio cassettes, CDs, and MP3 players, since 2000. (source)

This Toronto Star article has some good background on the issue of file sharing in Canada.
posted by Stuart_R at 8:03 PM on March 31, 2004


They also pay a licensing fee on sales of mp3 players and cd-r's, I believe.
posted by ph00dz at 8:03 PM on March 31, 2004


The thing I'm curious about is the idea that a "decisive act" has to be taken to share the music; wouldn't that act be logging onto Kazaa and telling it where your shared music folder is? Digitally speaking, I'd say somebody walking into your house and stealing your TV would be a hacker back-dooring into your system and banging all your files up on a P2P network, and sure, that's not wrongdoing on your part...

Mind you, I'm not really anti-file-sharing to start with, though I work (intern) in the music industry. It's kind of hard to say what I am, really. I want people to be buying music, but I don't care if they're listening to it for free, if that's logical. Point being, I don't object too too much to the spirit of the judge's ruling, but the logic of it isn't coming across to me.
posted by logovisual at 8:04 PM on March 31, 2004


The thing I'm curious about is the idea that a "decisive act" has to be taken to share the music; wouldn't that act be logging onto Kazaa and telling it where your shared music folder is?

Nope. It's still passive. If, say, a P2P asked gave you a lengthy Y/N dialog box every time a user wanted to download a file from you, that would make it illegal, most likely. But just pointing to a folder doesn't mean you're purposefully uploading each individual file you send.
posted by Jairus at 8:07 PM on March 31, 2004


They also pay a licensing fee on sales of mp3 players and cd-r's, I believe.

This is true. It sucks for those who buy cd-r's for anything other than mp3s but what can you do.
posted by btwillig at 8:14 PM on March 31, 2004


It sucks for those who buy cd-r's for anything other than mp3s but what can you do.

A small price to pay for not having filesharing criminalized, IMHO.
posted by Jairus at 8:17 PM on March 31, 2004


It's not criminalized in the US now, is it? I thought copyright violation was civil matter.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:28 PM on March 31, 2004


This is true. It sucks for those who buy cd-r's for anything other than mp3s but what can you do.

I've never understood this. DVDR are so damn cheap--how is a levy built in to it? I bought 50 of them for 17.99 last week. Really, how much cheaper can you get?

The recording industry here is really pissed about all this, of course. Some friends of mine were "dropped" by Universal Music Canada about a week ago because their front man was speaking out in favor of file sharing when intereviewed while on tour. The great thing is that this has generated a huge amount of interest in the band and makes the label look even stupider than they already did.
posted by dobbs at 8:32 PM on March 31, 2004


It's not criminalized in the US now, is it? I thought copyright violation was civil matter.

As I understand it, that's soon to change. I read something about jail terms, I'm sure someone else has a link handy. I suppose 'protection from criminalization' would've been a better way of phrasing it.

DVDR are so damn cheap--how is a levy built in to it? I bought 50 of them for 17.99 last week. Really, how much cheaper can you get?

I know the proposed levy for DVD-R media was $2.27 per disc, I'm not sure if this is coming into effect or not.
posted by Jairus at 8:36 PM on March 31, 2004


Dobbs - what was the name of your friends band?
posted by Quartermass at 8:49 PM on March 31, 2004


Here's that link, jairus.

If HR4077, also known as the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2004, becomes law, it would be the first legislation designed to punish file sharing with jail time.

Won't pass. But it's shameful that we're even considering it.
posted by ook at 9:04 PM on March 31, 2004


Am I the only one who noticed that the ruling judge's name is Judge Konrad von Finckenstein? Are we sure this isn't an Onion article?
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:11 PM on March 31, 2004


Is anyone here a Canadian legal expert who can tell us about how Canadian copyright law differs from our own?

Canadian copyright law is our own. How does American copyright law differ from our own?
posted by timeistight at 9:12 PM on March 31, 2004


What happens if you stream mp3s from a server in Canada to my computer here in the States? Is that a loophole to the legal problems of filesharing in the U.S.?
posted by banished at 9:39 PM on March 31, 2004


What happens if you stream mp3s from a server in Canada to my computer here in the States?

Not being in the US, I'd be fine. You might be in trouble for downloading the stream, however.
posted by Jairus at 9:44 PM on March 31, 2004


timeistight -- that's just my personal subconscious U.S. bias talking; I noticed it immediately after I made the post and meant to apologize in my earlier comment. I do apologize to MeFi's numerous non-U.S. citizens.
posted by logovisual at 9:46 PM on March 31, 2004


Quartermass, Danko Jones. The label said they weren't doing enough support in Canada but it all happened after about 7 articles appeared where they spoke out in favor of file sharing and dissed the Canadian music industry. Essentially they weren't "dropped," but they had another record due under the contract, which the label now doesn't want (it hasn't been recorded yet). Personally, i'm glad they're off Universal. The label blows.

Robot_Johnny, I assume it's legit not because of the judge but because this case (the 29 people) has been mentioned many times from various news sources. Here's a recent debate from the CBC.
posted by dobbs at 9:47 PM on March 31, 2004


It's not criminalized in the US now, is it? I thought copyright violation was civil matter.

Nope - there can be a civil suit and/or criminal charges. Gererally, the criminal charges come in when someone is an actual pirate - making a business out of reselling unauthorized copies. The DMCA greatly expanded the criminal definition in 1998. For instance, it made a crime to circumvent anti-piracy measures built into most commercial software. Here is aome of the language from the law:

"In addition, it is a criminal offense to violate section 1201 or 1202 wilfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain. Under section 1204 penalties range up to a $500,000 fine or up to five years imprisonment for a first offense, and up to a $1,000,000 fine or up to 10 years imprisonment for subsequent offenses. Nonprofit libraries, archives and educational institutions are entirely exempted from criminal liability. (Section 1204(b))."
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:21 PM on March 31, 2004


A small price to pay for not having filesharing criminalized, IMHO.

I agree, but I can understand why some students or small businesses resent having to pay it. It seems even more unfair when you consider that the record buying public has already paid for their music. It's like paying twice.

I wonder if the majority of the money raised from these taxes goes to the artists or to the labels.
posted by btwillig at 10:38 PM on March 31, 2004


One of my friends is suggesting that this is nothing more than an early April Fools' joke. If it is, it's been reported in a lot of places already. I was just on Quicklaw, which is an online database of reported Canadian cases, and there was no such decision posted as yet. However, that judge (I won't try to spell his name from memory) is a real judge on the Federal Court of Canada.
posted by kate_fairfax at 10:44 PM on March 31, 2004


This was on the front page of CNN earlier but just a few minutes later I could not find it anywhere on the site. Unless I just looked over it, I would assume that CNN thought "hoax" as well. Yes.
posted by bargle at 11:25 PM on March 31, 2004


Falsifying a court decision and putting words in the mouth of a federal judge has to be the dumbest idea for an April Fools joke I've ever heard, especially considering it was reported by three or four dozen outlets. I'm betting it's real.
posted by Jairus at 11:37 PM on March 31, 2004


remember when Bowling for Columbine came out and for a few months it was cool for ideologues to rag on Canada? now the foe of the hour is "Europe," for obvious reasons (if you're a moron).
posted by mcsweetie at 11:04 AM on April 1, 2004


Stuart R is right a deal has been struck that has the labels via the goverment collecting a levy and allowing citizens to share. Officially it is a little byzentine: I can lend a CD to a friend and he can then make a copy (or rip it). And I can make as many archival copies as I want. But I can not make a copy and then give the copy to my friend. Case law still has to be made regarding offsite back ups. And it is also legal to make a copy of a cd borrowed from a library but the library has to lend out originals not copies.

CD-Rs are in theory being levied C$0.67 per. I can buy 50 pack spindles for less than $30 including GST(federal sales tax of 7%, my province doesn't have a sales tax) so it is pretty obvious there is a loop hole there somewhere.
posted by Mitheral at 11:26 AM on April 1, 2004


My reading of this story indicated that it doesn't make file sharing legal, just that servers don't have to reveal the usernames of the folks sharing (thus making it very difficult for them to be identified and sued).

The legality/illegality of the actual uploading hasn't changed.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:11 PM on April 1, 2004


von Finckenstein said that downloading a song and making files available in shared directories was not a crime. Hence, the ISPs don't have to disclose the identities of the 29 individuals, because they weren't doing anything wrong.
posted by Jairus at 1:57 PM on April 1, 2004


Judge Konrad von Finckenstein? Are we sure this isn't an Onion article?

It's for real, all right. I'm tempted to go into the local bar, buy everyone a round and yell "This one's for Konrad von Finkenstein!" Then leave, 'cause I'm not really big on drinking.

For some analysis on the decision and other Canadian copyright matters, look over here.
posted by sfenders at 2:40 PM on April 1, 2004


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