If you’re looking for a piece about a retired policeman who helps people steal music, you’ve come to the right place. An Australian appeals court has ruled that Stephen Cooper, an ex-cop who ran MP3s4free.net, was not exempt from copyright laws just because his site pointed to files rather than hosted such files. It’s similar to the widespread interpretation of the law that has us speaking about services like Kazaa and the original Napster in the past tense. The ruling upholds a decision from last year in favor of the Australian record labels. As CNet reported: “A principal purpose of the Web site was to enable infringing copies of the downloaded sound recordings to be made,” Judge Susan Kenny wrote in her opinion. “The fact that the Web site also carried a warning that some downloading could be illegal did not lessen the force of the invitation.” That opinion also characterized Cooper’s defense, that his site was just a pointing service, like Google, as “unhelpful.” Cooper’s ISP was also found guilty for letting the site exist (again, the name of the site: the not-at-all-subtle MP3s4free.net).
So, there’s another pirate down. But one metric revealed during the case is important for the music industry. Before Cooper’s site was shut down, more than seven million people went there and downloaded 1.97 terabytes of music as a result of finding it through the site. Sure, most were probably looking for a free ride, but the optimistic among us could cite the heavy traffic as yet another piece of evidence pointing to a promising un-DRM’d legit MP3 market should the record labels ever seek to pursue it beyond recent experiments.