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Will the DoJ Go After Consumers for File Swapping
By Sounni de Fontenay
(more articles from this author)
2002-09-05
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Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: Mi2N - August 29, 2002

Home Recording Rights Coalition is coming out against a recent statement from a Department of Justice official that criminal cases may be files against individual file swappers. Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Malcolm based such possible copyright infringement cases on the 1997 NET Act, which makes hacking a criminal act, noting that "stealing is stealing is stealing."

HRRC raised three main points why the DoJ should not use the NET act against file swappers:

1) Fair use rights are guaranteed to consumers by statute, and applied judicially on a case by case basis.

2) Time after time, practices of individuals that were initially equated with "piracy" or "theft" have been shown to be neutral or beneficial to copyright owners, and have either been tolerated or accepted as fair use.

3) The NET Act's requirement of a total retail value of $1,000 per infringement should be taken seriously as a barrier to bringing cases against ordinary consumers.

HRRC Chairman Gary Shapiro said, "Ever since the Betamax case was filed, it has been vital to maintain the distinction between consumers engaging in private, noncommercial use of copyrighted material, and large-scale pirates. Sharing over the Internet has encouraged some content owners to try to obliterate this distinction. But every time the entertainment industry or the government has accused average consumers of being copyright criminals, the accusers have had to back off, and with good reason."

Related News from Mi2N:
» The HRRC To DOJ: Hands Off Consumers


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