Check out the case law and the laws on the books. Downloading pirated ANYTHING is not illegal!

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(reposted with the permission of the author)

Downloading Pirated Anything Is NOT Illegal

I had an interesting discussion in an article thread on Plime about downloading pirated music that didn’t start out that way. The other person said that he knew that downloading pirated music was illegal and that got me started.

In 2001, I spent hours and hours reading and researching this very topic, but for software. I had copies of the copyright acts and publications mailed to me from the Library of Congress (I couldn’t find them on the Internet). I had a software program that I wanted to distribute and I wanted to find out what kind of legal protections I had from someone just taking the software and using it without paying for it.

I read every bit of information I could find, including case law. I studied the DMCA. Since then I have studied the NET Act. I have studied everything I could find. Guess what? I could not find a single line in any act that said that downloading anything was illegal, or even anything that could be construed to mean it.

There are organizations with websites that bluntly state that downloading pirated files is illegal but fail to cite a reference of any kind. I found one this evening and my discussion partner found another. They confuse the issues of file sharing and fair use with downloading as well as uploading.

I submit that there’s a legitimate reason there is no law covering the downloads. I believe it’s because you cannot know for certain that a file is pirated until it is in your possession. File names mean nothing. Fake music files planted on Kazaa prove it. Fake video files planted on torrent sites prove it. Even non-pirated files get named with titles that could be misconstrued as being pirated. I also believe that intent is insufficient to come to the conclusion that a person is attempting to download a pirated file.

I also submit that the videos preceding certain movies and other texts that state that “downloading pirated movies is stealing” are lies intended to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). If a lie is repeated enough and in enough places, it can become the truth for a lot of people (or sheeple).

I am not a perfect person and I never claim to be. If you can cite a reference to an actual law that says anything to the effect that downloading a pirated file of any kind is illegal, you will be my blogging buddy for life (or until I don’t blog anymore, whichever comes first).

Addendum: I have a few simple questions because everyone knows how sue happy the RIAA is: There are many, many more downloaders of pirated music than there are uploaders. Wouldn’t it be more profitable and send a stronger signal if they were suing the downloaders for copyright infringement as well as the uploaders (file sharers)? Have you heard of a case yet? Can you point me to it?