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Judge sides with RIAA: file sharing apps lead to direct infringement
Written by Daniel   
Monday, 27 August 2007 11:20
Judge sides with RIAA: file sharing apps lead to direct infringement
ARS Technica
By Eric Bangeman | Published: August 27, 2007 - 11:08AM CT

One of the arguments the RIAA has made in every file-sharing lawsuit it has ever filed is that making a song available on a P2P network is the same as distributing it, therefore violating the record label's copyright on the song. So far, judges have been favorable to the RIAA's interpretation of the Copyright Act, with the latest victory for the RIAA coming in Atlantic v. Howell.


Pamela and Jeffrey Howell were sued by the RIAA in 2006 for copyright infringement. The Howells decided to defend themselves against the charges, and submitted a remarkably short answer to the RIAA's complaint. In it, the Howells argued that their file-sharing program was "not set up to share" and that the files found by Media Sentry were "for private use" and "for transfer to portable devices, that is legal for 'fair use.'" Their three-paragraph response was miniscule in comparison to those filed by file-sharing defendants with professional representation.

In his summary judgment, Judge Neil V. Wake dismissed the Howell's arguments and handed the RIAA $40,500 in statutory damages, $350 in court costs, and a permanent injunction against future copyright infringement by the Howells. "Several cases suggest that Kazaa users commit direct infringement by employing the Kazaa program to make their collections of copyrighted sound recordings available to all other Kazaa users," wrote Judge Wake, citing three other cases as well as Howell's deposition in which he admitted ownership of the Kazaa account in question.

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