What Happens If File Sharing Can Also Be Prosecuted As Trademark Infringement?
from the messy dept
In the arguments over ACTA, one criticism seemed widely accepted: that it tries to bundle together two quite different challenges -- tackling counterfeit goods, like fake medicines, and dealing with unauthorized file sharing. One popular suggestion was that ACTA should be split in two in order to handle those separately – for example, David Martin, the politician who played a key role in convincing the European Parliament to reject ACTA this week, supports this approach.
But a case reported on TorrentFreak suggests that the distinction between the two worlds is starting to blur:
A New York federal court has ordered a rare default judgment in favor of John Wiley & Sons, one of the world’s largest book publishers. Robert Carpenter from Poughkeepsie, New York, has been ordered to pay the publisher $7,000 in damages for sharing a copy of "WordPress All-in-One For Dummies" on BitTorrent. According to Judge William Pauley, the man is guilty of both copyright and trademark infringement.
The judge specified that $2,000 of those damages were "for Carpenter’s counterfeiting of Wiley’s Trademarks". As TorrentFreak notes:
To our knowledge, this is the first time that sharing files on BitTorrent has been viewed as counterfeiting, a description that’s usually reserved for fake goods sold as the real deal.
That's troubling, because it would seem to open the door for anti-counterfeiting measures aimed at tackling serious trademark infringement to be applied routinely to P2P sharing of copyright files simply because they are exact copies of originals. That, in its turn, would mean that separating ACTA's measures against counterfeit goods from those dealing with online infringement might not be enough to solve the treaty's problems, since the former would still apply to the digital world. Yet another reason to bin ACTA completely and to start again from scratch.