User-Generated Content Sites and Section 512 of the US Copyright Act

Matt Lonsdale is a JD candidate at Dalhousie University.

Jane Ginsburg, Morton L. Janklow Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law at Columbia University and IP Osgoode International Advisory Council member, has released a paper on the liability faced by operators of sites which host user-generated content under US copyright law. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act contains provisions which protect operators from liability for the infringing acts of their users, provided they meet specified criteria. The paper argues that a recent District Court decision could be seen to expand these “safe harbour” provisions and loosen the statutory criteria, with the effect of providing protection even to those operators who turn a blind eye to infringement.

From the abstract: “While the statute makes clear that the entrepreneur should not be pressed into service as the investigative arm of the copyright owner, the Viacom decision does not simply decline to impose an obligation to seek out the infringers who may lurk within the user base. Rather, the decision arguably rejects neutrality to read into the statute a high degree of solicitude not only for online entrepreneurs whose businesses occasionally may accommodate infringing users, but also for those who effectively solicit infringers”.

“User-Generated Content Sites and Section 512 of the US Copyright Act” is available at SSRN:

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