No, The Supreme Court Did Not Legalize Downloading
from the wtf? dept
First things first: I’ve appeared on The Alyona Show on RTTV a few times in the past, and have always enjoyed it. I don’t know much about Russia Today, the operation behind RTTV, though some have argued that it’s a propaganda arm for the Russian government. My general position on these things is that if people want to interview me about the subjects that I’m interested in, I’m happy to talk to anyone. I’ve done interviews for NPR and the CBC as well, and I’ve given a talk for execs at the BBC, all of which are also government supported media.
However, to be a credible news source… you have to at least be able to get the basics right. On Monday of this week, we wrote about the Supreme Court’s decision to let stand a Second Circuit appeals court ruling, saying that a download did not require extra royalties for also being a public performance. It’s basically a licensing dispute over what licenses need to be paid if you’re offering downloadable music. Interesting, but not a huge deal.
So I was a bit shocked to see a headline declare that the Supreme Court legalizes downloading music, because that’s simply not true. I clicked through… and it’s from RTTV, who apparently understood this story so little that almost nothing in the headline or opening sentence is accurate. On the assumption that perhaps they’ll change or pull this down, here’s a screenshot:
First up, the Supreme Court didn’t do anything other than refuse to hear the appeal of ASCAP, allowing the Second Circuit case to stand. So it didn’t legalize anything. Nothing in the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal indicates a change to any law, let alone something as crazy as “legalizing downloading music.” Second, the opening sentence is also completely bogus. Downloading music is already an infringement of federal copyright law. Nothing in this case would change that one way or the other. All it concerned was whether or not services that offer downloads have to pay a separate “performance” license to ASCAP for the downloads. Nothing in this is about legalizing (or illegalizing) downloads. Services already pay licensing rights to distribute a copy of a file. The question is whether or not they had to pay even more, if downloading also constituted a “public performance,” which is covered by a different right under copyright law.
No matter what your position is on copyright law, or this particular case, making totally ridiculous claims, like the Supreme Court legalized downloads, is flat out ridiculous, and suggests not only did someone not understand the case at hand, but didn’t even bother to read the most basic information about the case.