The Best Available Technology Standard

51 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2011 Last revised: 29 Nov 2014

See all articles by Lital Helman

Lital Helman

Columbia Law School; Ono Academic College Faculty of Law

Gideon Parchomovsky

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law; University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Date Written: December 9, 2011


Copyright liability for web-hosting will be a key determinant of the evolution of the Internet in years to come. Depending on their design, the legal rules that shape the liability of web-hosts can stunt the development of the Internet as a medium of expression or enhance it. Hence, adopting the optimal liability regime is a matter of crucial importance.

This Article proposes a radical change in web-hosts’ copyright liability for illegal content posted by users. Our main thesis is that web-hosts’ liability should be guided by the “Best Available Technology” principle, according to which web-hosts that employ the best filtering technology available on the market will be immune from liability for copyright infringement.

Adoption of our proposed liability regime would offer several key advantages relative to the extant regime. First, it would provide web-hosts with the certainty they need to continue to operate and grow. Second, it would result in superior and more balanced enforcement of the rights of copyright holders and would achieve this at a much lower cost. Third, it would spur competition in the market for filtering technology and induce constant improvement in enforcement technology. Fourth, and finally, it would dramatically reduce the rate of copyright infringement suits against website operators and the cost of adjudicating them.

We further demonstrate that the analytical framework we construct represents a superior approach not only to the liability of web-hosts, but also to those of file sharing and possibly Internet Service Provider liability.

Keywords: Copyright, Filtering, Technology

Suggested Citation

Helman, Lital and Helman, Lital and Parchomovsky, Gideon, The Best Available Technology Standard (December 9, 2011). Columbia Law Review, Vol. 111, p. 1194, 2011, U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 11-36, Available at SSRN:

Lital Helman (Contact Author)

Columbia Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
(212) 854-5189 (Phone)

Ono Academic College Faculty of Law ( email )

104 Zahal St.
Kiryat Ono, 55000

Gideon Parchomovsky

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Scopus
Mount Scopus, IL 91905

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-1603 (Phone)

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