John Walker's Electronic House

CW 186

Copyright Watch 186

John Walker loses another limb of faith in the world.

A significant change has occurred in the long-running battle between the BPI and those who share music in the UK. For the first time legal threats have actually reached courts, and in a shocking and entirely unexplained decision, two people have been convicted of… well, this peculiar unnamed crime.

The BPI have so graciously decided to not name the two men charged with fines and hefty legal fees, but it is known that both had their cases thrown out by the judge, who without stating reasons or arguments found both guilty of, er, sharing music. Or something.

An individual from Kings Lynn pointed out that the BPI had provided no evidence to the court that he had shared these files, but the judge thought this of no relevance, and ordered to pay a total of £13,500, plus unspecified damages. The second defendant, a postman from Brighton, stated that he had no idea it was illegal, and pointed out the rather significant fact that he’d not sought any financial gain. The judge, Justice Lawrence Collins, declared that “Ignorance is not a defence”, and then seemed to forget that other bit – the bit where he pointed out he hadn’t done anything wrong.

This sets a worrying precedent. Until this point, those willing to give the matter more then five minutes’ thought have stated, “If only one of these corrupt cases would actually reach a judge, then the nonsense would be revealed.” It turns out we were wrong. The nonsense reigns supreme, and the judges are ruling without thought, logic, or indeed reason.

The BPI’s claim remains that file sharing is damaging sales, and hurting musicians, while simultaneously releasing sales figures stating that record sales have never been higher. No one notices, no one cares. No one’s telling the judges. And people simply sharing music are being fined tens of thousands of pounds.