Liability of internet service providers under United States law.
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The ease with which copyright-protected material may be copied and distributed over the internet, and the difficulty of locating and sanctioning individual infringing end users, has focused much attention on the role of internet service providers (ISPs) in the enforcement of copyright rights. United States courts began assessing ISP liability for infringements by others making use of ISP facilities by applying common law notions of secondary liability, particularly contributory infringement, in an effort to strike an appropriate balance between enforcing copyright rights and allowing free use of a valuable new technology. In 1998 the U.S. Congress codified and amplified the general approach taken by the courts in section 512 of the Copyright Act, a complex provision that addresses in detail many of the fundamental issues. This article outlines these developments and analyzes the major cases that have interpreted the statutory provisions.
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