The Exclusive Rights of 'Distribution', 'Communication to the Public' and 'Making Available' Under the WIPO Copyright Treaty: Lessons for Other Jurisdictions from the Hong Kong BitTorrent Case
38 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2008 Last revised: 30 Jul 2008
Date Written: March 13, 2008
Articles 6 and 8 of the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty prescribe minimum standards for the distribution (or making available) and public communication of copyrighted works, with resulting national implementations that have been varied and inconsistent. This article examines the state of current copyright law in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore, in light of the 2007 landmark BitTorrent criminal copyright case from Hong Kong, and concludes that the lack of international norms and uniformity remains a cause for concern in the digital age, where online activities blur the line between physical and intangible distribution and communication. This concern is illustrated by the current spate of ongoing litigation in the United States regarding the distinction between reproductions and distributions by users of peer-to-peer filesharing technology.
Keywords: copyright, WIPO Copyright Treaty, distribution, making available, communication to the public, peer-to-peer, filesharing, BitTorrent
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