The interesting aspect of the case and the verdict (if it stands) is the amazing amount of the damage award -- something that even the recording industry itself is somewhat embarrassed about. (The defendant uploaded roughly two albums' worth of copyrighted content -- about $30 worth -- and even given the jury's conclusion that she acted "willfully," surely no extra-special deterrent is needed to ensure that she doesn't do it again.)
On the radio, though, the question was simply how to avoid getting yourself into such a mess. That's easy: The recording industry has largely stopped suing individual file sharers, so the likelihood of getting sued for "ordinary" use of free P2P services is pretty small. If you want to eliminate even that small risk, then simply avoid using free P2P services altogether, and ensure that if you do -- download only. Don't offer your file directory to the network for others to copy from you.
There is little doubt that the copyright system has reached a consensus that "ordinary" use of those services to upload and download music, film, and computer software without permission of the copyright owners is copyright infringement, and while you're not going to get sued if you do it, whether you download or upload, eventually you may find yourself getting cut off by your ISP (including your school or employer). Enterprises that put free file sharing tools out on the Net will still come under withering fire, both here and abroad.
At least, that's the case unless and until
Of course, almost none of that made the air; being a good electronic media guest means short-and-pithy answers -- lively entertainment, not informative content. I'm told that the segment will be repeated today. If you find a link (I haven't), let me know.
[Link added Tuesday, June 23]