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. The Judge also noted that copyright law protects "fixed" works, such as books or recorded music releases, while bootlegs, by definition, are of live performances. Peter Grant must be rolling in his grave. Grant, the famed rotund 6'5" Led Zeppelin manager (pictured), was notorious for scouting record shops smashing vinyl bootlegs with a baseball bat back in the day.
U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. dismissed a federal indictment of Midnight Records owner Jean Martignon, 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. (When Disney copyrights on Steamboat Willy are to expire, that number usually jumps up a few years.) 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.
The Recording Industry Association of America collectively said, "What the f*ck?". RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said 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."
What does Lawrence Lessig have to say all about this?