Here’s a stunning example of what is wrong with copyright law:
As University of Utah law professor John Tehranian points out (PDF) that mundane activities like downloading, copying, automatically replay to, or forwarding e-mails could be read to constitute copyright infringement. That’s right — almost all emails are copyrighted. Tehranian points out that just copying and replying to 20 emails could lead to $3 million dollars in statutory damages. So too are such things as forwarding family photographs or pictures of the company holiday party that you didn’t take, singing “I Wish You a Merry Christmas” at the party and videotaping the singing of the song, or posting the latest “Dilbert” comic on your cubicle wall. All create potential civil and criminal infringement liability.
Indeed, Tehranian notes that his hypothetical infringer, doing nothing more than the average person does, and not including any peer-to-peer file sharing, could have potential annual statutory civil liability of more than $4.5 billion. And, of course, that is just in the United States. The Internet, being a transnational medium raises the specter of infringement liability in many countries at the same time.