Infringing Information Architectures

64 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2024

See all articles by Michael Goodyear

Michael Goodyear

New York University School of Law; New York University (NYU) - Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy

Date Written: March 5, 2024


Information architectures—systems that facilitate storing and sharing data and content—underpin daily life, from streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu to social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. But since the printing press, these systems and their novel features have challenged the bounds of copyright law, leading to accusations that providers and users directly infringe others’ copyrights. Almost fifty years ago, however, a paradigm shift occurred, one that is underexplored in the literature. Copyright owners started to allege systemic secondary liability against information architecture providers for all of their users’ infringements. These claims, which this Article terms architectural infringement claims, pose an acute challenge to the balance copyright law strives to achieve between creators’ rights and access to copyrighted works. Overbroad protection risks stymying innovation with up to $150,000 per infringement in damages while reduced rights threaten copyright’s incentive to create. Scholars have recognized this challenge in individual cases but have not offered a framework for responding to architectural infringement claims.

By examining architectural infringement claims systematically for the first time, this Article surfaces courts and Congress’ use of intent as the framework for updating copyright secondary liability doctrines in response to these claims. Here, intent refers to an actor’s action or inaction, once aware of a particular alleged infringement, that is substantially certain to facilitate or further the infringement. This undiscovered but valuable framework can guide the evolution of copyright law in response to architectural infringement claims against emerging information architectures, such as generative AI and blockchain. As technologies continue to develop at a breakneck pace, intent paves the way for an innovation-promoting, copyright-respectful future.

Keywords: Copyright law, technology, intellectual property, platforms, secondary liability, contributory liability, vicarious liability, copyright infringement, blockchain, Web3, artificial intelligence, copyright reform, Sony, Grokster, DMCA, AHRA, Napster

Suggested Citation

Goodyear, Michael, Infringing Information Architectures (March 5, 2024). 58 UC Davis L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2025)., Available at SSRN:

Michael Goodyear (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

245 Sullivan St.
New York, NY 11101
United States

New York University (NYU) - Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy ( email )

245 Sullivan St.
New York, NY 11101
United States

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