File Sharing Online: Spain talk legality

How do we know when file sharing is illegal? There are all kinds of complexities surrounding this issue and it’s become a bit of a minefield trying to get through it. Of course you may listen to a CD with a friend for example, but creating a backup copy, is that illegal and where exactly is the line crossed?

Similarly if you play a CD at a party, then maybe convert it to MP3 files, or what about putting it into a shared folder of a P2P application, when does this go from becoming perfectly allowable, to being dubious and then just becoming downright illegal?

It’s somewhat surprising then that Spanish judge, Raul N. Garcia Orejudo, recently ruled that linking to copyrighted material is acceptable, as in the case of a Spanish music collector society (SGAE), against Jesus Guerra, who owns a link site. First he argued that as P2P networks merely acted as a transmission of data between Internet users, they did not violate rights protected by Intellectual Property Law.

He then backed this up by saying that as Guerra was not making profit from his link site then “offering an index of links and/or linking to copyright material is not the same as distribution”. This seems to throw the whole gray area of file-sharing legalities into doubt although it will be interesting to see what will happen if SGAE appeal the decision. For more on this story go to mashable.com. Do you have a clear way of debating the file-sharing issue and when exactly do you think the line is crossed between legal and illegal?