A collection of artists and billionaire FilmOn founder Alki David, have accused CBS and CNET’s run Download.com, as being responsible for most of the world’s piracy, simply because it currently and has for a long time, offered torrent software for download.
Of course that’s like suggesting kitchen utensil sales companies like John Lewis are responsible for all stabbings, but lets not let logic get in the way of this story.
Over the past year, the collection of unnamed artists and David have achieved minor victories in court, with one judge suggesting that because Download.com provided software for distribution as well as reviewing it, you could argue that it is encouraging the use of such software.
The new claim by those gunning for CNET, is that because it encourages usage, it is responsible for all ensuing copyright infringement: “Because CBSI distributed several torrent software programs and encouraged infringement on torrent networks, CBSI is liable for all infringement on the torrent network,” the plaintiffs write (via TorrentFreak).
“The fact that other entities such as the torrent publisher or a torrent website like the Pirate Bay might be jointly and severally liable for this infringement does not affect CBSI’s inducement.”
One of CNET’s counter claims since the start of this legal action has been that BitTorrent is also used to distribute unique content that is approved by the creator. According to the artists, this is irrelevant.
Now that the courts have heard both arguments, we’re waiting on their decision to see where this case moves next. A loss for CNET could see the distribution of file sharing software be restricted to less public locations. On the other hand, if they win, it could make torrents a more legitimate way of distributing original content.
KitGuru Says: While CNET perhaps could have protected itself a bit better by not having a video demo that shows them downloading copyright protected content, it shouldn’t be held responsible for what the users do. You can legally and morally restrict access to certain products for certain consumers if you wish, but don’t blame the salesman for what the purchaser does with it after it’s decided they’re able to use it. That’s out of everyone’s control. The idea that a downloader is influenced by CNET’s portrayal of the software is an insult to the consumer as well.