illegal downloading

Illegal downloading [ POLL ]

What do you think about illegal downloads of music, movies and TV series?   With music services such as the iTunes store, Spotify and Pandora, the music business is starting to meet market need, but movies and TV are lagging behind.   Read more »

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$5,000 liability limit for file sharing in Canada

Canada’s a pretty fucked up country when it comes to some of its legislation, but they’ve got this one right.  In the face of movie and music rights holders claiming outrageous damages for illegal downloads, the Canadians have passed a law that limits  liability in non-commercial cases to a maximum of $5,000 for all infringement claims.

And judges are even guided to favour the lower end of the punitive scale:

in the case of infringements for noncommercial purposes, the need for an award to be proportionate to the infringements, in consideration of the hardship the award may cause to the defendant, whether the infringement was for private purposes or not, and the impact of the infringements on the plaintiff.

This is a reasonable response to what has been taking place until now.  Here’s an extreme example from the USA:

 In 2009, Thomas-Rasset’s case was retried and again 12 jurors decide against her. This time, however, the jury awarded damages of $80,000 for each of the 24 songs she was accused of sharing for a total of $1.92 million.

Whenever the legal system allows legal remedies to be turned into a viable income stream, there is a need to balance it.

In New Zealand this never got out of hand in the first place.  The costs of scatter gun type litigation is simply prohibitive enough for rights holders’ “accuse everyone, demand megabucks, and see what sticks” strategy to never have been viable  here.  As a result, we’re yet to see someone before the Copyright Tribunal.