January 24, 2003
Owner of Norwegian website napster.no convicted

In Norway, creating MP3 files for personal use is legal. Similarly, copying a friend's CD is legal as long as you make the copy for your personal use, not for distribution or sale. Great, isn't it? You're even allowed to download MP3 files from the net as long as you don't sell or distribute them. ... gotta love Norway...

Well - until recently. Using the same law that allows us to do these wonderful things, the creator of Norwegian website napster.no was convicted for providing "direct links" to mp3-files (that were not even on his own website!) and for providing "indirect links" to websites that link to illegal material. The below extract is from the legal proceedings of the court case (via Jon).

I'll translate the bold sentences:

På Napster.no var det linker til forskjellige undersider med hitlister over bl.a. « Mest populære », « Norge Topp 20 » osv. Klikket man seg videre til en av disse listene, lå det der linker til de enkelte musikkfilene. Saksøkerne foretok en undersøkelse av sidene den 29. oktober 2001, og kom frem til at det under Napster.no fantes 171 linker til forskjellige musikkverk lagt ut på Internett. Når brukeren klikket på en av linkene, fikk man automatisk muligheten til å laste ned dette musikkverket. Man ble da viderekoblet til det stedet hvor denne musikkfilen lå og kunne laste ned filen. Ingen av de mp3-filene man kunne laste ned lå altså på nettstedet Napster.no. Man havnet ikke gjennom denne operasjonen over på siden hvor musikkfilen lå, men befant seg fremdeles på Napster.nos sider etter at filen var lastet ned. Etter denne operasjonen var musikkfilen lastet ned på brukerens egen pc. Han kunne da bl.a. avspille musikkverket og/eller kopiere filen over på andre lagringsmedier. Det er ikke omstridt at verken Bruvik eller de som lastet ned musikk via Napster.no noen gang betalte vederlag til eventuelle rettighetshavere.

None of the mp3 files in question were located at the napster.no server. But by clicking on the link from napster.no's pages the user would download the file and afterwards still be at napster.no's pages. [duh!]
Where Norway previously was a long-time protector of the people's right to "fair use", it seems like commercial interest are trying to crush the envelope of what was considered legal...

I find these commercial attempts to cut back on Norwegians' long-standing rights speculative at best, and if what Jon writes is true, we should definitely resist any attempts to launch Infosoc in Norway (context: in Denmark it is now, apparently, even forbidden for an individual to make a copy from his own CD to his own MiniDisc player -- hello - earch calling 21st Century!??)

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Ok so I didn't read the full conviction but based on your post, I agree with the court. Copying a cd from a friend is good, possibly as good as it shouhld get. Making programs like napster is organized mp3-swapping and on a moral basis I think this is wrong, streching "fair use" too far. Ideally, if you really like the music you should buy it. Fair use would imply sharing music with your friends but thats it.


Posted by: Odegard on January 26, 2003 01:35 AM

But was this guy doing anything for commercial benefit, technically? Could they prove that he was making cash off of the files that were being linked to?

Do you think that this is going to change the law in Norway?

It's so interesting how all these different countries have different laws. It was smart of the Kazaa people to spread themselves out all over the globe. There is, btw, an interesting article right now at wired.com on Kazaa's crafty techniques of avoiding copyright law, if this is the sort of thing that interests you.

Posted by: lee on January 27, 2003 04:12 AM

I didn't say he did it for commercial benefit, far from it, which also makes it a bit difficult to understand why people do this. By "this" I don't mean swapping mp3 files. "This" is doing it on a mass scale with no obvious purpose. If it was a political statement I can agree that it is worthwhile, but else? Did he do it to get fame? To get more mp3s? I just don't understand it.


Posted by: Odegard on January 27, 2003 10:25 PM
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