Friday, May 16, 2008

Jammie Thomas may get another day in court

The RIAA won the first file-sharing case that went to court - but now the judge involved is suggesting it might need to fight the case all over.

Jammie Thomas was convicted quite quickly - in law, she didn't have much reasonable doubt to call on - but even so, she might get another chance. Judge Michael Davis has admitted he wrongly told the jury that copyright infringement happened when the track was uploaded to networks; he's since realised it doesn't happen until the track is downloaded by someone else.

But, warns Wired:

One of the cases Judge Davis cited in his order Thursday is also something of a double-edged sword for the defense. In that April decision, Atlantic v. Howell, an Arizona judge said that merely making a copyrighted work available for downloading wasn't infringement. But the judge also held that the RIAA's own investigators can effectively turn it into an infringement just by downloading a copy from the share folder involved.

Can it, though? If the RIAA represents the copyright holders, how can they illegally download a copy of the copyrighted material? And what sort of law is it where the police can turn a suspect into a criminal by the act of observation? (Oh - sort of like when the pretty policemen go into toilets to solicit gay sex.)