Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Court sentences student for copyright violations

NO DENIAL The young blogger admitted to illegally posting hundreds of songs on his site since 2004 and said he would accept legal responsibility for his actions

By Liu Chih-yuan and Yuan Shih-chung  /  STAFF REPORTERS

In a first for Taiwan, a 22-year-old vocational school student and blogger surnamed Sun () has been sentenced by Taipei District Court for violating copyright legislation when he uploaded music to his blog.

Beginning in 2004, Sun uploaded 398 songs to his blog, hosted by the popular Wretch Web site, which offers blogging and photo album services and discussion forums. The music made the blog popular, but it also attracted the attention of the London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

On Dec. 26 last year, police confiscated Sun's computer and the IFPI filed a lawsuit against Sun, who admitted to having uploaded music without permission and said he would accept legal responsibility. Sun shut down his blog immediately.

Taipei District Court said the action was a clear violation of Article 92 of the Copyright Act (著作權法), which mandates a maximum of three years in prison. As Sun was still a student, had no intent to profit financially and had no criminal record, he was sentenced to a three-year deferred sentence of five months in prison, which can be converted into a fine of NT$1,000 per day.

Sun may appeal the verdict.

Tseng Huang-lin (曾皇霖), the founder of Pixnet, a Web site offering services similar to Wretch, said copyright-protected materials should not be offered on blogs, adding that people had been accused of using copyright-protected materials without permission before.

Those cases did not involve the use of as many copyrighted materials, however, and apologies and immediate deletion of the materials were therefore sufficient for the violators to avoid a court appearance, Tseng said.

Bloggers who want music on their blogs can use online blog platforms such as Xuite, which offer music that has been licensed for online use, while some record companies promote music through their corporate Web sites by providing snippets of their latest releases, which users are allowed to link to.

Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦), director of the Science and Technology Law Center at the Institute for Information Industry said many young people mistakenly think that using background music that cannot be downloaded by the viewer is not a violation of copyright legislation.

Unless the music is composed by the users themselves, however, any kind of usage requires prior permission from the copyright owner, Wang said.

Wang said that Internet users who purchase and download music online should pay attention to the contract rules to avoid violating the law.

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