Will The RIAA Sue Judge Kozinski For Sharing MP3s?

from the just-wondering dept

While judge Alex Kozinski is getting a ton of press for accidentally sharing pornographic images from his webserver, Justin Levine notes that the report concerning what was on the server also found music MP3s from musicians like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Weird Al Yankovic. Levine wonders if the RIAA will now sue this federal judge as well. In fact, things could get tricky in that some research suggests not only was Kozinski storing MP3s, he may have actively been sharing some of those MP3s as well. That same link mentions that in one of many copyright infringement lawsuits concerning the company Perfect 10, Kozinski wrote a dissenting opinion suggesting that facilitating copyright infringement should be seen as infringement as well:

“When it comes to traffic in material that violates the Copyright Act, the policy of the United States is embedded in the FBI warning we see at the start of every lawfully purchased or rented video: Infringers are to be stopped and prosecuted.”

There’s a lot more involved in his opinion, which really focuses on credit card companies profiting from infringement — but considering how he much he writes against those who help others infringe, it’s probably not a wise idea that he was out there sharing music files himself.

However, to be fair, as the details come out, this whole thing is quite clearly a witch hunt by someone who seriously dislikes the judge. As we noted when the story broke, it’s perfectly ridiculous to try to suggest this makes him any less qualified to judge cases. And, indeed, as the details come out about the content on his server, it’s becoming clear that it is, as he noted “funny” stuff. It’s all basically the sort of silly viral content that gets passed around all the time, much more for the amusement factor than any sort of titillation.

This post certainly isn’t to slam Kozinski, who seems like a genuinely thoughtful judge — with a sense of humor to boot (he famously nominated himself for a mocking “Judicial Hottie” contest run by a blog, noting: “While I think the list of female candidates is excellent, the list of male candidates is, frankly, lacking. And what it’s lacking is me…. I have it on very good authority that discerning females and gay men find graying, pudgy, middle-aged men with an accent close to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s almost totally irresistible.” The fact that he was also sharing MP3s, again, is just yet another reminder that, contrary to the entertainment’s claim that “education” will solve music sharing, many people just think it’s perfectly natural and reasonable to share a song with some friends.

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Will The RIAA Sue Judge Kozinski For Sharing MP3s?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Formerly anonymous coward says:

I’m too lazy to find the link now, but I thought all this stuff was just on a unsecured server. Not a webpage, not a link, he just doesn’t know how to secure his network and files. Just like every other computer user I have to tech for. He wasn’t sharing, he had things on a private server with 0 security. He is a Judge not a tech I am not surprised.

Jason (profile) says:

Re: @Formerly

“He is a Judge not a tech I am not surprised.”

To me that’s a bigger part of the problem. The fact that he didn’t know that he was publishing this content, which WAS on a webpage (that he thought was private) IS a problem.

That’s a pretty basic snafu for someone who is responsible week in and week out for setting authoritative case law precedents on internet copyright/free speech/sharing/etc issues.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re: @Formerly

The fact that it was accidental AND done by a judge is great!! For one, we know that at least one judge “gets it” to some degree and may actually lean toward individual rights rather than corporate greed if he were to sit on a case involving file sharing. We know he knows how easy it is for someone to share files when they think they are not. That is a point of reasonable doubt and the exact kind we want judges to think about.

eternal says:

Let's put this in perspective

Granted I don’t have 100% of the facts on this case (then again who ever does) but from what I have been reading on this and other sites I have to say I am a bit amazed. It seems as if we are about to start a love circle, singing acoustic jams, while he sits snuggly protected amidst our chanting.
Let’s not forget that any one of us doing the same thing would be sued, muckraked, and treated like a leper by the music industry. This is a perfect example of what is good for some isn’t necessarily good for all. We have all seen the IAA’s go after people for the stupidest reasons and any one of us sharing via the judges method intentional or not would be in trouble. Not to mention we may have even gone up in front of this very same judge.

Alan says:

So what you’re saying Mike is that when authority figures start breaking the laws themselves, whether over copyright or obscenity, it is a clear indication that we should just throw those laws out. If he had been abusing children and claimed he thought it was “perfectly natural and reasonable”, would you be calling for a repeal of child abuse laws? Obviously not, so clearly you are spinning this incident out of context as a means of supporting your views. Please go back to discussions that have rational bases for them.

Hulser says:

If he had been abusing children and claimed he thought it was “perfectly natural and reasonable”, would you be calling for a repeal of child abuse laws?

I think what your analogy doesn’t take into account is different degrees in breaking a law. As for “abusing children”, there’s a big different between beating your kid to a bloody pulp and letting them ride their bike without a helmet. The latter example seems silly, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that would think you’re criminally endangering your kid if you don’t make them wear a helmet when riding a bike.

The point is that there’s a big difference between pirating thousands of first-run movies on DVD for profit and accidentally giving people access to copyrighted material because you left your server unsecured. But under the laws that exist now in many places around the world, the punishments would be the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The point is that there’s a big difference between pirating thousands of first-run movies on DVD for profit and accidentally giving people access to copyrighted material because you left your server unsecured.

Yes there is, just as there is a difference between purposefully killing someone and accidentally killing them – murder vs. involuntary manslaughter. And yes they should be punished differently. And although it seems that this judge was sharing his files accidentally, it could be he was in fact doing it purposefully. Just because in the courtroom he comes out as being pro-copyright doesn’t mean that he’s a hypocrite when it comes to his personal actions.

But my point is that if it were any other crime the judge were involved with, we would without doubt be calling for him to recuse himself. If he were accused of graft and it was a case on corporate corruption he was hearing, would there be any doubt? Mike is cherry picking this event and putting a spin on it to say, “Look, even judges share mp3s, therefore it should obviously be legal”. I appreciate his articles on the need for copyright reform, but ones that are based on solid economic arguments – not propagandic spin.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...