Two new defenses against copyright infringement emerge

In the past couple of weeks, two new defenses against copyright infringement have emerged:

  1. Get a stern talking to by Edgar Bronfman, parent of 7 and Warner Music Group CEO who just admitted that he’s fairly certain that at least one of his kids have engaged in illicit downloading. As of yet, somehow these children have avoided being sued by the RIAA. Their punishment?

    I explained to them what I believe is right, that the principle is that stealing music is stealing music. Frankly, right is right and wrong is wrong, particularly when a parent is talking to a child. A bright line around moral responsibility is very important. I can assure you they no longer do that.

    Stealing isn’t the issue here, copyright infringement is.

    Maybe these kids learned about infringement from the Warner Brothers movie studio which got started when the Warner brothers fled west to illicitly make and commercially show movies out of the reach of Edison’s patent police. Or maybe the kids picked up the idea of selectively obeying copyright law in their history class by recalling that the US didn’t initially honor foreign copyright, thus allowing American publishers to reprint works under copyright in other countries (much to the chagrin of Charles Dickens, whose work was being distributed commercially without remuneration).

    Warning: Bronfman lectures are limited to first 7 applicants.

  2. Keep the infringing copy “safe in your vault” and you’ll be okay. Boing Boing has the scoop about a screening which took place on 2006-11-30:

    During the Q&A at last night’s screening of Kirby Dick’s “This Film is Not Yet Rated,” Dick recounted the story of how his film was unlawfully duplicated by the MPAA’s ratings board. He submitted one copy of his movie to the MPAA, extracting a promise that no more copies would be made — the MPAA’s own anti-piracy materials describe making a single unauthorized duplication as an act of piracy.

    Once it got out that the MPAA had made its “pirated” copy of Dick’s movie, one of the MPAA’s lawyers called Dick up to admit that the cartel had indeed made an infringing copy, but not to worry, “The copy is safe in my vault.”

    At this point, I raised my hand and asked if Dick thought anyone caught downloading movies from the Internet could get off the hook by saying, “Don’t worry, I keep my copies safe in my vault?”

    I still don’t think it’s wise, fair, or appropriate to use the term “piracy” in this context no matter how popular its use may be. Also, we have to consider the difficulty of avoiding infringement if the MPAA can’t manage to keep themselves inside their view of the law. But of course the larger issue remains how much deference we ought to give to any business model built on disallowing treating friends like friends.