P2P and Private Copying

With the appeal of the BMG v. Doe case scheduled for next month, it is interesting to see developments in Europe this week that also seek to protect individual file sharers who download for personal, non-commercial purposes.

First from France, the French Court of Appeal of Montpellier has released a 22 years old Internet user free of charges after he was sued for copying nearly 500 movies on Internet, burning them on CDs and sharing them with friends. The Court based its decision on the article L-122-5 of the French Intellectual Property Code stating that authors cant forbid copies or reproductions that are only intented for the private use of the copyist.

Second, news reports from Sweden this morning indicate that their government has proposed changes to the countrys copyright law which would make it illegal to download, as well as distribute, music and films on the internet without the copyright owners permission. However, justice minister Thomas Bodstrom said on Thursday that the tightened law was not intended to be used against individuals downloading material for their own private use. With this new law we want to fight against those who earn serious money by spreading copyright-protected material … but the idea isnt that the police will charge into homes hunting teenagers who are sitting there downloading.

Canadas private copying system is often unfairly derided as being out-of-sync with the rest of the world. The truth is that many countries are sensibly shifting toward distinguishing between private copying and commercial infringement.

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