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Old 19th November 2007
Peter Wells, SVP Operations, Customer Advocate - Tunecore
I have to start by saying I'm not a lawyer. I don't even own a suit. But here are some facts:

1) Napster (the Napster of old, the file-sharing hub) was ruled illegal in America and shut down; it has to settle and pay damages. Even now it's not illegal in the U.S. to download music, but it is illegal to distribute it without the proper permissions.

2) As a general rule, the courts try to move slowly in regards to rulings around situations created by new tech--they want to be careful not to stifle something,
so they move very slowly.

3) The location of the company dictates what countries laws apply. In law, territory and juristiction is everything. Kazaa was based in Australia, so Austrlian law applied. I'm an American who's not a lawyer, I'm even less of an Australian lawyer! But there are still examples: one extreme, the Russian-based company selling music for a couple of pennies, within Russian copyright law but accesible in the U.S. and all over the world via the Internet. It took the US threatening with the World Trade organization to get Russia to act on it, finally! And hey, Kazaa was ruled illegal by an Australian court, finally.

5) Lime Wire was also ruled illegal. Lime Wire is launching a legitimate service that sells music and has a subscription-based model (seems to be all the rage).

6) Courts need to be able to enforce their rulings, and for so many of these sites, what these sites do, specifically, is not illegal: they allow people to pass informatoin to each other, and that information (who has what song, etc.) isn't itself illegal. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but it's the law. If I personally allow copyrighted material to be traded to someone else, who should be liable? Tech like bittorrent confuses things even more, as it takes one copyright-protected piece of work and splits it into tens of thousands little pieces distributed onto thousands of computers around the world, without a central server of any sort

Given all this, I can see why the courts are loath to move fast. And until they do, the grey areas are wide indeed.

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