The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. The mainstream press here and the trade press in the U.S. has been abuzz in recent days over the Copyright Board of Canada’s recent ruling that music downloads, no matter from what source, are covered by the private copying levy so long as the tracks are copied to media covered by the tariff. The ruling has been seen in some quarters to legitimize the practice of downloading, but that general conversational direction could prove dangerous. It bears keeping in mind that the board explicitly said that activities such as uploading are covered by other provisions of the Copyright Act. It takes but a cursory glance at the legislation to determine which sections in particular could be used to prosecute those who make their music available for millions to download. It remains illegal to distribute copyrighted material in such a manner as to prejudicially affect the rightsholders, and it won’t be difficult for the music industry to prove in a court of law that the distribution on file-sharing networks of over a billion music tracks in Canada alone isn’t in the industry’s best interest. That’s not to say that prosecutions will be a walk in the park for the Canadian Recording Industry Association and others. The sector will likely find itself in legally sound territory, but the backlash will likely be fierce. The Canadian approach to education about music sharing has been noble. The industry has thus far taken the high ground in choosing not to prosecute, but to try to teach kids and others about the harmful effects of file-sharing. The industry has ratcheted up its rhetoric on music sharing, however, and civil suits may be the only recourse the industry has to the death spiral in which it finds itself. Lumping music-sharing in with grey areas of the law regarding fair dealing when it is clearly on the wrong side of the law does a disservice to the public interest advocates fighting for access to material online. There are more important battles to be fought.