Court: RIAA Can Sue Just For Possessing Pirated Music

MediaPost is reporting that a federal district court judge has sided with the record industry in one of the most hotly contested issues to come up in copyright infringement cases—whether people can be sued just for making tracks available to Kazaa users.

In his 25-page opinion, New York judge Kenneth Karas held that placing tracks in a shared folder can violate copyright law because such activity constitutes publication and an offer to distribute, the report said. Defense attorneys said in the article that if the decision is followed by other courts, it could mean that any Web users who have placed copyrighted works in their computers’ shared music files could be liable for piracy—regardless of whether those works were downloaded by others.

“It’s troubling because it can capture the person who has only done lawful things with music on his or her hard drive, and has never contributed to the actual infringement because no one has ever tried to copy one of those files,” said Wendy Seltzer, one of the lawyers who argued the case on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in the report.

What we’re trying to figure out here is how the RIAA will be able to prove than an MP3 file is one you stole, and not one you had ripped from a CD you bought. Eh, it doesn’t matter, right? They’re already suing deceased grandmothers.