Copyright Infringement and Peer-to-Peer Technology

47 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2009

See all articles by Niels Schaumann

Niels Schaumann

California Western School of Law

Date Written: 2002


In this article, I will analyze the activities of peer-to-peer ("P2P") users to determine more precisely which, if any, of their actions infringe copyright. In Part II, I will describe the process of copyright lawmaking and the recent evolution of copyright law in response to technology. This discussion will include a brief description of conventional and P2P network technology. A copyright analysis of user activities on P2P networks follows in Part III, where I argue that the nature of copyright legislation requires courts to be especially careful and precise in determining the contours of infringing noncommercial conduct by members of the public. The analysis in Part II will lead to the conclusion that copying by P2P users does not infringe copyright, but distribution does. In Part IV, I address some strategic considerations affecting copyright enforcement and P2P networks, including some speculation about why the Napster case turned out the way it did, and why that is a problem. Finally, I propose the reinvigoration of Sony as a way to preserve the public benefit of P2P technology.

Keywords: technology, internet, music, Digital Performance Right in Sound, copyright law, copyright infringement

Suggested Citation

Schaumann, Niels B., Copyright Infringement and Peer-to-Peer Technology (2002). William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, p. 1001, 2002, Available at SSRN:

Niels B. Schaumann (Contact Author)

California Western School of Law ( email )

225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
6195251405 (Phone)


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