In a surprising setback to record labels, a judge in Canada has ruled that downloading copyrighted works from peer to peer networks such as Kazaa and Morpheus is legal. Recording industry bodies have enjoyed success in a variety of countries by suing individuals for downloading and uploading music files, so this ruling must have come as quite a shock.
The ruling is specific to Canada, but will have far wider implications especially when other countries’ legislative bodies look too their peers for guidance – however, courts in Canada have yet to decide if the uploading of copyrighted files is legal.
The decision was made when Canadian record labels began the process to sue 29 alleged file swappers – and were denied authorisation to identify them. The ruling is based on legislation in Canada that states that most copying for personal use is permitted – this is possible because there is a levy imposed on all blank tapes, CDs and MP3 players to make up for potential lost revenue.