Internet users make use of digital information in various ways. This means that they can receive and send text, sounds, images, software, and other data with a single click. There are no barriers at all. You just need to have your personal computer along with a modem. Having both resources, you can communicate with millions of people around the world.
Internet accessibility challenges copyright infringement laws. These laws say that you cannot disseminate or duplicate copyrighted information. But almost all Internet users are doing the same. Eventually, content providers suffer a lot from this copyright infringement.
Content providers are business proprietors who sell their content (in any form such as text, sounds, software, images) to their customers. When their customers download their content from the Internet, they do not have to pay any price for it. It is called copyright infringement. This obviously is a threat to content providers because their business is suffering from loss due to misuse of the Internet.
Following are some reasons of why ISPs are liable for copyright infringement:
Many Internet users break copyright infringement laws because they simply are not aware of these laws. Others purposely infringe. They think that they can continue infringing because content providers cannot detect them. Even if content providers discover them, they cannot get compensated. So the only source left for the liability is that of Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Secondly, content providers cannot have access to so many subscribers. However, ISPs are established businesses that have a physical location as well. This enables content providers to target ISPs as they are liable for their copyrighted material’s infringement.
ISP’s Direct Involvement in Copyright Infringement
An ISP can be liable for copyright infringement because it provides Internet service to a subscriber who infringes the content providers’ product. This reason seems quite realistic in a number of ways. First of all, an ISP is responsible for automatically reproducing and distributing copyrighted content over the Internet. It does this on its subscribers’ request.
Secondly, an ISP already knows that its subscribers are infringing copyrighted material. This is because an ISP can automatically track the information its subscriber is downloading from the Internet. It works in such a way that an ISP gets copies of copyrighted information. Then it sends that to its subscriber. This activity indicates clearly that ISPs are liable for copyright infringement.
Vicarious Liability in Copyright
The liability of ISPs in copyright infringement also depends on whether they can have direct financial benefits or not. According to copyright Infringement laws, an ISP cannot have any financial benefit directly from conducting any infringement activity. This holds true for wireless internet providers because they earn money from their subscribers. If subscribers infringe, it means that ISPs are equally liable for it.
However, the court does not make it a strong reason for making ISPs liable for copyright infringement. This is because it is the matter of intention. If an ISP provides Internet service to its subscribers without the intention of copyright infringement, then it is not infringing directly. But still, content providers have a different opinion.
ISP As a Contributor
Courts say that ISPs are liable for copyright infringement because they are contributors in this kind of infringement. As compared to the reasons mentioned above, this is the strongest reason the courts give for ISPs’ liability. The reason states that if anybody is aware of an infringing activity and contributes to it as well, he/she is said to be a contributory infringer.
According to the characteristics of a contributory infringer, wireless internet providers are liable to compensate the content provider. Moreover the following scenarios justify that an ISP can be a contributory infringer:
- Since an ISP offers Internet service to a large number of subscribers, it is well aware of the fact that some of them will definitely be involved in copyright infringement. If ISPs still provide their services to such infringers, then this will mean that they are making “material contributions” in copyright infringement.
- It might be possible that a content provider sends a notice to an ISP that its subscribers are infringing their copyrighted material. In such a case, if the ISP does not discontinue providing Internet service to its subscribers, then it will also be called an infringer.
[box_dark]This is a guest post by Eva Kempinsky
About the Author: EvaK is a Freelance and Staff writer who writes informative & creative articles on Technology for various technology company. Her expertise are in writing articles related to internet providers, wireless internet providers , Social media etc.[/box_dark]
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