Copyrights in Cyberspace: A Roundup of Recent Cases
54 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2012
Date Written: 2011
Decades from now, we will remember 2010 for the BP oil spill and the year 2011 because of a slow recovery from the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Nevertheless, it is reasonably certain that intellectual property (IP) lawyers will still remember some of the remarkable copyright cases included in this roundup of cyberspace-related cases. For the past two decades, copyright law has been accommodating to the digital age. While the World Wide Web did not become part of mainstream American culture until the mid-1990s, the widespread use of the Internet dramatically changed the course of copyright law.
The World Wide Web continues to enable copyright infringement on a scale unfathomable in the 1980s and 1990s. In October 2011, the U.S. Copyright Office released its strategic plan that prioritized its activities for the next two years. One Copyright Office priority is the "feasibility and facilitation of the mass digitization of books, outside the context of Google’s private effort." Google Book Search already enables users around the world to access millions of books from the world’s finest libraries at the click of a mouse. Among the U.S. Copyright Office’s call for legislative action is to find new ways to deter "rogue websites" that enable widespread copyright infringement of copyrighted works, "particularly motion pictures, television programs, books, and software." Another legislative priority is to ramp up "criminal penalties for unauthorized online streaming of content." The U.S. Copyright Office also calls for "amending federal law to give librarians and archivists more support in their efforts to deal with digital content." The priority of restraining widespread infringement on the Internet is a top priority for copyright owners around the world. This Article is a roundup of how Internet-related cases decided in the past two years continue to reshape the contours of copyright law.
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