Sharing copyrighted works on peer-to-peer networks is legal in Canada, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday, handing the record industry a sharp setback in its international fight against file swappers.
Canadian record labels had asked the court for authorization to identify 29 alleged file swappers in that country, in preparation for suing them for copyright infringement, much as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued more than 1500 people in America.
But the judge denied that request. In a far-ranging decision, the court further found that both downloading music and putting it in a shared folder available to other people online appeared to be legal in Canada.
“This has certainly stalled (the record industry’s) current round of litigation, and…thrown into doubt whether there is infringement at all,” said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa law professor who closely follows Canadian copyright issues.
The Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), which brought the case, said it did not agree with the judge’s ruling.