District Judge rules "publishing" the same as "distributing" in copyright infringement case, continues lawsuit

There are many different arguments as to how copyrights can be infringed and many laws in place are still up for interpretation.  Studies show how broad the standards copyright infringement can be, so its no surprise the case Electra vs. Barker has taken the better part of three years to approach resolve. 

A District Judge brought down the gavel on Monday, ruling that simply making songs available in a Kazaa shared folder is not an act of copyright infringement but did give merit to the claim.

The trial began in 2005 after record labels took legal action on the availability of filesharing as copyright infringement. Naturally, the RIAA decided to step in and join the action.

The lawsuit was brought forward after a record label had a Kazaa user shared 611 files on her computer. The company then hired investigators to locate her internet protocol address. The record company was able to identify the defendant with that IP address with the assistance of Verizon internet service.

The defendant, Denise Barker, motioned to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that making files available in a Kazaa shred folder did not prove the files have been shared.  Barker argued the lawsuit using Rule 8, which requires that a plaintiff in a copyright lawsuit must point out a specific song involved, at what time the illegal act occurred, the company owns the rights to the song and copyright registration information.

Barker says the case must be dismissed because it does not describe specific acts of infringement or the dates and times on which the infringement allegedly occurred. But, according to the RIAA, making files available is enough to constitute as copyright infringement and does not need to be proved any further.

The argument boils down to the distribution and publication. "The question before the Court, therefore, is whether the Court should look to the definition of the word 'publication' to construe the meaning of the term 'distribute' in Section 106(3) of the Copyright Act," Judge Karas claimed.  The conclusion was that “publication” and “distribution” is the same in regards to the Copyright Act.

The importance of this particular case is the judge’s decision. This is the first time a judge a ruled so strongly and created a new standard in interpreting the Copyright Act.

Judge Karas dropped the motion to dismiss, continuing the case. This is not necessarily a victory for the record labels or the RIAA in regards to this case, but it definitely has set a new precedent on the standards of situations and material qualifying copyright infringement, giving the pleased RIAA more ammo in its already large stockpile.

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