Law and the Internet

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Law and the Internet
September 18, 2011

I. Opening
A & M Records INC. vs. Napster INC
Plaintiff – A & M Records INC
Defendant - Napster INC
Case Number – 239 F. 3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2001)
Judge – United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Date – October 2nd, 2000

II. Facts
Napster was created in 1999 by a freshman at Northwestern named Shawn Fanning. It created a way for people to share music from one computer to another, where almost all music could be downloaded for free. This free way of downloading music was reflecting in a downward turn in sales for CDs. A & M Records is listed as the main plaintiff, but in reality all record groups that were part of the Recording Industry Association of America were in on the lawsuit.

III. Issue
Was the peer to peer sharing that Napster created infringe on the plaintiff’s copyrights of their music?

IV. Decision
The Ninth Court of District Appeals upheld the district court’s ruling on guilt on Napster’s part.

V. Rationale
The Ninth Court of District Appeals found that Napster was guilty of multiple copyright infringements. They directly infringed on the copyrighted music that was downloaded through their website. The peer-to-peer sharing that was created by Napster allowed people to illegally download music. The Court found that Napster did not need to know “specific acts of infringement” in order to be guilty of Contributory Infringement. It is liable because it did not stop the illegally copyrighted music from being posted. Napster was found guilty of vicarious infringement because it turned a blind eye on the illegally copyrighted files. In regards to the Fair Use Defense, the court found that Napster’s users had the ability to control the infringing behaviors, and therefore had a duty to do so.

VI. Holding
The court upheld the original ruling, finding Napster guilty of various Copyright Infringements. Napster was unable to prove that they had no control...
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