Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want…No principle … can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom … a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle — but only in degree — between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.”     Lysander Spooner

January 20, 2007

Copyright Law And The Assault On Innovation II

by Doug Mataconis

A Federal Judge in New York has ruled that a lawsuit by the music industy against XM Satellite Radio over a new XM radio that allows consumers to record songs played on XM onto an MP3 player can proceed forward:

A lawsuit in which record companies accuse XM Satellite Radio Holdings of cheating them by letting consumers store songs can proceed toward trial, a judge ruled yesterday after finding merit to the companies’ claims.

Judge Deborah A. Batts of United States District Court in New York made the finding in a case brought by the Atlantic Recording Corporation, BMG Music, Capitol Records and other music distribution companies against XM Satellite, the satellite radio broadcaster.

In a lawsuit last year, the companies said XM infringed on their exclusive distribution rights by letting consumers record songs onto special receivers marketed as “XM + MP3” players.

XM argued that it was protected from infringement lawsuits by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which permits individuals to record music off the radio for private use. The judge said she did not believe that the company was protected in this instance by the act.

While this is an early stage of the proceedings, this doesn’t strike me as very good news, or anyone else who believes in freedom to innovate. Especially when you consider remarks like this:

The judge said XM operated like traditional radio broadcast providers who cannot offer an interactive service, publish programming schedules before broadcast and play songs from an artist more often than specified within a three-hour period. But by broadcasting and storing copyrighted music for later recording by the consumer, the judge said XM was both a broadcaster and a distributor, but was paying only to be a broadcaster.

“The record companies sufficiently allege that serving as a music distributor to XM + MP3 users gives XM added commercial benefit as a satellite radio broadcaster,” Judge Batts said.

And what’s so wrong with that ?

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Copyright Law And The Assault On Innovation


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