Real Copyright Law And File Sharing Copyright Law
from the what-are-the-differences... dept
We already wrote about the Limewire decision, which didn’t seem particularly surprising at all, given that LimeWire was basically doing the exact same things as Grokster. However, some people are noticing a few problematic parts to the ruling. While these parts alone certainly won’t change the ruling, it’s still worth noting what the judge said and questioning whether or not they’re proper. As Eric Goldman notes, he tells his students that when it comes to copyright law there’s normal copyright law, and then there’s “P2P file sharing” copyright law “and it’s a mistake to think those two legal doctrines are closely related.”
Judges don’t like file sharing systems, and even if they have to twist the law to reach the conclusion they want, they’ll do so to shut such sites down. It’s happened over and over and over again. Goldman notes that LimeWire got in trouble for its advertising efforts — even though none of those advertising efforts specifically suggested people infringe. Instead, because it advertised itself as a competitor to other file sharing programs that were used for unauthorized file sharing, the court said that’s the same as inducing infringement. That seems like a dangerous finding. Just because programs may be targeting the same audiences, doesn’t mean that they’re inducing infringement. Yes, there were other factors that resulted in the finding of inducement, but using the ads targeting Napster/Grokster users seems questionable.
The second big problem is that the court says part of the reason it found inducement was because LimeWire didn’t put in place filters. But that would mean the court’s interpretation of the DMCA means that the law requires user-generated websites to install filters. The law says no such thing.
Goldman also highlights that the court found the CEO of LimeWire personally liable for infringement, which seems to go against the whole concept of a limited liability corporation structure. We’ve seen previous lawsuits on such things go after execs and investors personally, but usually those get thrown out. In this case, the court didn’t seem to have a problem with applying the claims to the guy personally.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why the court found the way it did, but it’s at least a little worrisome to see the court do these things within the overall ruling.