Seth Raphael   Jay Silver 

File Sharing by Hand
Downloading songs by trading pieces of paper

October 3, 2006 - Day Against DRM


Is it illegal to download a song by hand?
It all started when I was thinking, "How much of a song is it illegal for me to share? Can I share one bit, one kilobyte, one megabyte?" Then I started to think about how I would share just a few bytes with someone. It seemed like I could hand them the information or even recite it to them.

I uploaded Eminem songs to people using only paper.
I wanted to hand people an entire MP3 recording, but that took up too much space on the paper, so instead I just used the song lyrics. I took the lyrics for free from a web page, put them in a text file, zipped them, and printed out the resulting zip file onto a single sheet of paper.

People downloaded the songs by taking the sheet of paper. Most people understood that this was analagous to downloading a song online. I informed people that the song was copyrighted, and that to take the song would be breaking a copyright law.
About half of the people were willing to break the law.
As the people took the paper, they commented that it didn't seem like it should be illegal or that they didn't care if it was illegal.

The other half either ignored or refused.
The person in this picture explained that he was a law abiding student. Since he happened to be listening to his Ipod, we informed him of the severe restrictions put on his use of music he purchases from Itunes. He decided in the end that he supports our cause.

Almost no one we talked to had heard of Digital Rights Management (DRM) or the Digital Mellinium Copyright Act (DMCA)


I thought this bullhorn might be for a DRM protest.
But it was only for a class assignment. We mostly interacted with MIT students, so they understood that it was illegal to download music, but didn't know anything much more about copyright law.

This guy had been sued by the RIAA.
He was enthusiastic about downloading the information on the paper from us despite having been busted in the past for doing the same thing on the internet. He said, "Everybody does it."

This Friday I plan to bake cookies and cakes and print copyrighted information on them.
There is an ipod hackathon this Friday and it would be nice to be able to imbibe some copyrighted information. I don't know what the law says about putting copyrighted information into your body assuming you don't look at it or write it down first.

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By Jay Silver and Seth Raphael