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This Week in P2P News
February 1, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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The file-sharing world is on another collision course with history, as the latest legal showdown builds in Sweden. There's a lot on the line for the entertainment industry in their fight against The Pirate Bay and global piracy. As The Pirate Bay and the entertainment industry square off, several other issues are developing this week which may have a lasting impact on the digital distribution landscape.

Qtrax made waves in January as it promised to deliver over 25 million free MP3s, so long as the end user tolerated a few ads. At the stroke of midnight Monday morning, this "groundbreaking" service was scheduled to go on line. Touted as the first legal P2P network with a deal with all four major music labels, midnight came and went with no launch. As it turns out, Qtrax didn't have all its arrangements in order. It remains to be seen when, and if, Qtrax launches.

U2's manager Paul McGuinness had a few scolding words to share at the Miderm music industry convention this week. He criticized the music industry's glacial pace in adapting to the digital world, and pointed the finger at ISPs to address piracy. He also had a few words for the American public as well.

"The US government has sometimes been overzealous in protecting the public from cartel-like behaviour."

Torrent Freak reported on Tuesday that the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of the Spanish ISP Telefonica over Promusicae. Promusicae is the local version of the RIAA, and had demanded that Telefonica hand over the identities of accused file-sharing butt pirates. Telefonica refused. Their strategy worked, as the case finally met its end on Tuesday. Neither side could be reached for comment, however the Court ultimately felt that privacy comes before intellectual property.

“Community law does not require the member states, in order to ensure the effective protection of copyright, to lay down an obligation to disclose personal data in the context of civil proceedings.”

It’s possible that The Pirate Bay has inadvertently launched Skynet. The Swedish prosecutor’s office has indicted the four administrators of the site, accusing them of criminal copyright enforcement. There’s a remote chance of jail time, however the most likely scenario is a hefty fine. Even if the administrators of The Pirate Bay are arrested, the network has long ago escaped into the wild and will continue functioning without them.

“The operators of The Pirate Bay have always been interested in making money, not music,” IFPI Chairman John Kennedy stated in a press release. “The Pirate Bay has managed to make Sweden, normally the most law abiding of EU countries, look like a piracy haven with intellectual property laws on a par with Russia.

If things weren’t already a bit unstable in Europe, a new law accidentally approved by both legislative houses in Italy may allow users to share music on P2P networks. The only catch is that the music must be “degraded” and free of charge. The mistake was made over the use of the word “degrade”, as the legislative branches were unaware of the technical implications of the word. Degraded quality is no problem on virtually every P2P network, as the MP3 is a compressed format. While it hasn’t been passed into law just yet, file-sharers and industry members alike will closely watch this law’s evolution.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Copyright Issues

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