[Slowhand] OT but of interest to all

Bryan Reid humblephoenix at comcast.net
Tue Jan 10 21:23:38 EST 2006


By Erin McClam

Associated Press

NEW YORK - A federal judge Friday struck down a 1994 law banning the
sale of bootleg recordings of live music, ruling the law unfairly
grants ``seemingly perpetual protection'' to the original performances.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. dismissed a federal indictment of
Jean Martignon, who runs a Manhattan mail-order and Internet business
that sells bootleg recordings.

Baer found the bootleg law was written by Congress in the spirit of
federal copyright law, which protects writing for a fixed period of
time -- typically for the life of the author and 70 years after the
author's death.

But the judge said the bootleg law, which was passed ``primarily to
cloak artists with copyright protection,'' could not stand because it
places no time limit on the ban.

Baer also noted that copyright law protects ``fixed'' works -- such as
books or recorded music releases -- while bootlegs, by definition, are
of live performances.

A federal grand jury indicted Martignon in October 2003 for selling
``unauthorized recordings of live performances by certain musical
artists through his business.''

The business, Midnight Records, once had a store in Manhattan but now
operates solely by mail and Internet. It sells hundreds of recordings,
specializing in rock artists, from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin.

An e-mail message to Martignon from the Associated Press was not
immediately returned Friday, and a phone number could not immediately
be located.

Megan Gaffney, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan U.S. attorney, said
federal prosecutors were ``reviewing the decision and will evaluate
what steps ought to be taken going forward.''

The Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group that
fights piracy and bootlegging, also disagreed with the ruling.

The decision ``stands in marked contrast to existing law and prior
decisions that have determined that Congress was well within its
constitutional authority to adopt legislation that prevented
trafficking in copies of unauthorized recordings of live
performances,'' said Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the RIAA.

The bootleg law calls for prison terms of up to five years for first
offenders and 10 years for second offenders, plus fines. It requires
courts to order the destruction of any bootlegs created in violation of
the law.

The law did not apply to piracy, which is the unauthorized copying or
sale of recorded music, such as albums.

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