Babe project - Legal feedback

Michael Pyne mpyne at
Sun Feb 4 15:25:33 UTC 2018

On Sat, Feb 03, 2018 at 03:19:04PM -0500, Camilo Higuita Rodriguez wrote:
> My case is the following, let's say that there's a feature for streaming
> audio, and the users stream the song they are listening to, what would go
> down in that case? Who's in legal troubles?
>  Also if I were to send an mp3 over email to a few friends, where's the
> illegal stand point there? The platform has some fault for allowing to
> "distribute" the file? Or the user who emailed the content?

This mail is more general advice, not directed exactly towards this
question, but still I think it may be helpful.

First, remember that to some extent, organizations based around
delivering and building a software ecosystem based on Free software are
inherently users and stakeholders in strong copyright, given the way our
laws "protecting" intellectual work are structured.  Concepts like
"copyright" (in the form of copyleft), are what prevent private parties
or companies from simply taking our Free software and making a private
fork without sharing the source.

Sometimes a private fork would be too much effort to go after (just like
media companies don't try to enforce every license infringement they
encounter), but for when it's not, we actually *need* copyright to be
able to enforce license disputes.  So it would be hypocritical for us to
use copyright as the shield to defend our Free software ecosystem on one
hand, but then ignore copyright when others are legitimately using it.

Yes, there are other concerns, such as the nearly infinite extension of
copyright that the big media companies seem able to achieve at will, but
still -- it would be self-defeating to act as if we only weakly care
about copyright, or even worse, only care when it serves our interests.

Secondly, the debate between legal agency of a "platform" and the legal
agency of a "platform user" is pretty much never that clear cut to be
only on the user's side.  Even here in the United States, where we have
strong gun rights and mottos like "guns don't kill people, *people* kill
people", there are still laws against the unrestricted sale or
distribution of some types of guns or gun-related gear.  So even our
culture doesn't *completely* ignore the fact that the platform matters,
even on issues like guns (and stronger weaponry, like bombs and
explosives).  And in cultures and societies that have stronger
prohibitions against guns (i.e. pretty much all the other ones ;), the
legal question is already slanted in favor of the idea that platforms
matter, not just user action or intent.

The NSA also makes similar justifications for their actions, saying that
their surveillance actions (however icky) are conducted under a fully
legal framework and that abuses are infrequent and due to "bad apple"
users of their intelligence platform, not the existance of the platform
itself.  NSA's many detractors (many of whom come from communities like
this one) tend to disagree, and say that the platform -- however
technically legal -- is a problem just by being.

So I guess all I'm trying to say is that even for us the right thing to
do can legitimately be complicated, even without worrying about media
lawyers.  It /would/ be nice to be able to have 'virtual' parties with
close friends without all having to be in the same room :), but getting
there may be thorny.

 - Michael Pyne

More information about the kde-community mailing list