|Is downloading copyrighted music tantamount to stealing? Lawrence Lessig, an expert on Internet law from Stanford University's Law School, and Matt Oppenheim, senior vice president of business and legal affairs for the Recording Industry Association of America, answer your questions about this heated debate.|
Chris from Santa Monica asks:
To Mr. Lessig: please explain how anyone can claim that distributing copies of copyrighted music to a total stranger without authorization of the artist or song owner is not copyright infringement? No one thinks that making a large number of Xerox copies of a book and handing them out on the street is legal, so why is P2P [peer-to-peer] different?
Matt Oppenheim from the Recording Industry Association of America responds:
Lawrence Lessig from Stanford Law School responds:
That would be hard for me to explain because I don't know anyone serious who doubts that under current law, individuals engage in copyright infringement when they make large quantities of copyrighted material available for others to copy without the permission of the copyright owner. But I also don't think that's the issue with P2P technologies.
P2P technologies can be used for totally legal purposes, even if they are also used for illegal purposes. Indeed, as they develop, the vast majority of uses of P2P technology will be legal. As the Supreme Court has rightly held, a technology is not illegal if it is capable of "substantial noninfringing uses." Every P2P technology that I have seen satisfies this test.