UIC Review of Intellectual Property Law


Ross Drath


More than a decade ago, Napster brought the issue of copyright infringement by file-sharing to the center of the public stage. How would a body of copyright law built to regulate tangible objects apply in the digital realm? The safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, intended as a compromise between the interests of copyright owners and webhosts, have instead introduced legal uncertainty and allocated the costs of online enforcement both inefficiently and disproportionately. While Napster and several other major peer-to-peer services have been shuttered in the intervening period, the scope of online copyright infringement continues to grow apace. One avenue of that growth has been the advent of a certain class of “cyberlockers”—file storage sites that incentivize and profit from mass infringement. Focusing on two particularly controversial cyberlockers, this comment analyzes the current state of copyright law on the Internet and suggests comprehensive, practical reforms with an aim to achieving a sustainable reduction in online infringement.