A UK High Court ruling has just handed Hollywood a defeat in a battle against a now-defunct file-sharing site. The MPA argued that when Usenet indexing site Newzbin2 generated profits from piracy, that money should be handed over to the studios.
“The fruits of an infringement of copyright cannot, as it seems to me, be equated with the stolen coins. While the owner of the coins will have lost title to the coins at law, the copyright owner will have retained title throughout both in equity and at law,” the Judge wrote.
“A copyright infringer is more akin to a trespasser rather than to the thief of the coins. That leads to the next point: that a landowner has no proprietary claim to the fruits of a trespass,” he added.
Justice Newey then put forward a scenario in which a market trader was selling DVDs from a stall (some infringing, others not) on land he was trespassing on.
“The owner of the land could not, as I see it, make any proprietary claim to the proceeds of the trading or even the profit from it. There is no evident reason why the owner of the copyright in the DVDs should be in a better position in this respect,” he wrote.
It is great to see copyright infringement being kept a civil matter, like trespass and not allowed to be equated with theft, which is a criminal matter.