Decision – Motion to Dismiss Denied (October 25, 2006)
In a decision that may have far-reaching consequences an Oregon District Judge Ann Aiken has held, for the purposes of denying a motion to dismiss, that merely having a 'shared files folder' on one's computer, and thereby 'making files available for distribution', with nothing else, constitute the necessary elements of a copyright infringement action.
In response to this decision Recording Industry v. The People aptly says:
This is the first instance of which we are aware in which a judge has explicitly held that the RIAA's allegation of "making files available for distribution" is sufficient in and of itself to state a claim for relief under the Copyright Act. The decision contains no discussion of the Copyright Act, applicable case law, legal scholarship, or anything else that might give a clue as to how the judge came to agree with the RIAA. We will investigate further to see if the issue was briefed and, if so, how.
Dale's Comment: Wow! Whether or not making files available for distribution is sufficient to constitute copyright infringement (without proof that the file was actually copied by anyone) is the subject of wide-ranging debate. For this judge to make such a sweeping conclusion without supporting it in any way is surprising. Fortunately for Barker the RIAA dismissed this case. Shrewdly for the RIAA, such dismissal may negate Barker's appeal on the merits while yielding a precedent they can point to in future cases. I suspect that whether this decision is appealable or not, the 'decision' will be hotly contested in future cases.