Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


Luke M. Rona


Peer-to-peer file-sharing service providers (P2Ps) allow Internet users to exchange electronic content, including music, movies, and other digital works. In Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., the Supreme Court unanimously disarmed such P2Ps by holding that it is unlawful to distribute programs that induce others to commit copyright infringement. Evolved technologies, such as dot-torrent, allow mass file exchanges between third-party users--an attempt to remove the P2P from the file-sharing equation. The court in Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. v. Fung, however, imputed inducement from the search and index functionality of the P2P’s software, as well as the P2P’s encouraging behavior. The court in Arista Records LLC v. Lime Group LLC determined that LimeWire’s entire business model was founded on inducement. In both Fung and Lime Group, the P2P's intent was deduced from its outward acts. In Perfect 10, Inc. v. RapidShare, the court noted that RapidShare did not provide search and indexing capability and actively policed its servers when notified of infringement. This technological-behavioral standard of inducement suggests that P2Ps cannot avoid secondary liability under the guise of removing themselves as the “head” of the file-sharing process.

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