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Legal file share thru foundations?

I do not know if it's legal, but maybe on solution:

Let's say somebody setup a foundation. Foundations can accept help or materials, in this case anybody can donate their CDs to the foundation.

As a foundation, everybody can be a member, I mean legally you can create a contract the you work for them. In this case as you are part of the organization you can have access to all of it's properties, eg all of it's music CDs. As those are 'work materials' you can freely take it home :)

I didn't thinkg thru other aspects of it, but what do you think?

Monday, October 27, 2003

This has the same problem as Cringely's "everyone owns a share of a corporation that owns the CDs" plan, which is that an organization such as you describe doesn't have the right to make duplicate copies of the materials they own.

Sure, you can donate a CD to the foundation, but then only one person in the foundation can be using that CD at a time.  Once two people are using it, you've made an illegal copy and the RIAA shall smite you from the earth.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Interesting. I checked who is this Cringley guy and found his article. Yes, it's the same concept.

In that case probably there are millions of comments on the web, so I'll check those.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Millions of comments?...  check slashdot, they posted about Cringley's article when it came out.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, October 27, 2003

The only problem with Cringley's article is that it has no legal basis whatsoever.

A corporation may share a CD, book, professional journal, etc., among multiple employees.  However, as soon as the corporation starts making duplicates of that CD, book, or journal, it's violating copyright law.  (There are exceptions that fall under the "fair use" provisions, but they are narrow.)

There was a famous case from 1994, in which Texaco was sued because it allowed its researchers to make photocopies of articles from scientific journals (rather than purchasing enough copies of the journals for everyone.)  It was sued for copyright infringement -- and ended up paying more than $1 million.  The bottom line: corporations (or foundations) don't get a free pass to copy material for their employees.

Robert Jacobson
Monday, October 27, 2003

Robert, there was a case this year a lot like the one you cite.

Legg Mason bought a single subscription to a financial newsletter and redistributed it throughout their organization. Their fine was $20 million (a lot of that due to their not stopping when they received a Cease & Desist notice).


Monday, October 27, 2003

Thanks for the update, RocketJeff.  That case sounds particularly egregious -- according to that article, they also sent copies of the newsletter to their "favored clients."

I can understand how they rationalized it, though -- "it's just email, so forwarding it can't hurt."  (Even though that email required a $700 annual subscription.)

Robert Jacobson
Monday, October 27, 2003

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