Monday, October 8, 2007

You Can't Resell That CD

The RIAA won a $222,000 lawsuit against an individual woman in Minnesota who was using a peer-to-peer network. As absurd as that sounds, it didn't alarm me much until I read more of the details. Apparently, the woman wasn't found guilty of downloading copyright music. She was guilt of making copyright music available for download.

Apparently, copyright law also grants distribution rights to the copyright holder. For example, in this particular case, Virgin Records filed the following statement with the court...

A person also violates a copyright holder's distribution right by making copyrighted works available to others without authorization from the copyright holder. Section 106(3) of the Copyright Act gives the owner of copyright "the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: . . . (3) To distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending . . . . 17 U.S.C. 106(3)." This language makes it clear that it is an actionable infringement for one to violate a copyright owner's exclusive right to authorize the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a copyrighted work.

I can only hope that Virgin Records somehow took 17 U.S.C. 106(3) completely out of context. If I interpret it as written above, it seems that I am legally required to keep every CD, DVD, LP and VHS tape that I've ever purchased. I can't sell my old DVDs. I cannot give you a CD, even as a gift. Can I even toss a VHS tape in the trash? Why aren't there massive raids going on at all the second hand book stores around the country? Are all libraries required to explicitly obtain distribution rights for every work in their collection?

Any of these acts are undeniably prohibited under the aforementioned copyright distribution clause. Technically, I must get permission from the copyright holder of my Air Supply record before I transfer ownership to the city landfill.

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