In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the judge presiding over the Atlantic vs. Pamela and Jeffrey Howell file-sharing lawsuit denied the RIAA's motion for summary judgment.
Judge Neil V. Wake says just because the RIAA's investigative partner MediaSentry was able to download 12 copyrighted songs from the Howell's Kazaa account at two in the morning on January 30, 2006, that doesn't necessarily mean that other people were downloading the songs too. In fact, the judge says there is no proof that the couple distributed copyrighted songs to anyone except the MediaSentry investigator.
The RIAA has been contending that simply by dragging an mp3 into a Kazaa folder, for instance, constitutes as file-sharing…regardless of whether they can prove anyone actually shared the song. But Wake felt the RIAA failed to prove that the Howells distributed copies of the song, and that simply making them available to other users did not constitute infringement in this case.
"The statute does not define the term 'distribute,' so courts have interpreted the term in light of the statute's plain meaning and legislative history," wrote the judge. "The general rule, supported by the great weight of authority, is that 'infringement of [the distribution right] requires an actual dissemination of either copies or phonorecords.'"
Ironically, last year, the same judge ruled the other way on this case, so the Howells have obviously made some progress since then.
But the best part is that Jeffrey Howell says he never intended to use Kazaa for music, he just wanted porn (and freeware and e-books)!
Well, at least we know this guy is honest! I mean, who else in their right mind would admit to illegally downloading porn as an alibi in a deposition!