If You Only Share A Tiny Bit Of A File Via BitTorrent, Is It Still Copyright Infringement?
from the depends-on-who-you-talk-to dept
They send us a list of IP addresses and say 'this IP address was involved in a breach on this date'. We look at that say 'well what do you want us to do with this? We can't release the person's details to you on the basis of an allegation and we can't go and kick the customer off on the basis of an allegation from someone else'. So we say 'you are alleging the person has broken the law; we're passing it to the police. Let them deal with it'.The trial has been going on recently, and while I haven't been following the details that closely (figure it's worth waiting for the verdict), there was one interesting tidbit. As the company had suggested earlier, it's arguing that sharing a file via BitTorrent is arguably not copyright infringement at all. That's because of the way BitTorrent works, in breaking up any file into tiny components and sharing the individual pieces. A key element of copyright law is looking at how much of the content is shared. Down in Australia, they have a "fair dealing" exception to copyright law that appears to allow for copying small portions of a work, and some precedent of short video clips not being considered infringing.
While I would be quite surprised if this argument worked (even if it may be technically correct, it's so rare that judges pay attention to the technical aspects when it comes to copyright), I'm a bit surprised we haven't seen this argued elsewhere as well. Of course, if it does actually work, it will only turn the focus back towards the question of whether or not "making available" violates the distribution right of copyright, since that would cover what BitTorrent users were doing, if they offered up any unauthorized content (even if they actually shared only a tiny fraction).