Before the digital, online age, understanding copyright infringement was much simpler. A person would have copyright protection over a given work. Another person would copy and distribute that work in violation of the creator’s copyrights. The creator would then bring a lawsuit against the alleged infringer.
The problem now is much more complicated, with BitTorrent streaming and various levels of technology and internet streaming complicating the entire legal landscape.
A recent lawsuit
One recent case involves Cloudflare a Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider. The lawsuit, filed in Tokyo, alleges copyright infringement to the tune of $460 million, based on the company providing a critical tool for online copyright infringers.
The plaintiffs point to nine pirate manga sites that use Cloudflare’s services to pirate copyrighted works. The plaintiffs had allegedly asked Cloudflare to terminate its contracts with these customers and halt the streaming of pirated works on its sites, but Cloudflare refused to do so.
According to the article, the plaintiffs also claim that “while other major CDN providers properly identify site operators when they sign a service contract (to ensure the site is not illegal), Cloudflare’s free service can be accessed and used without ‘sufficient verification of identity’.”
How will this play out?
It is unclear how much responsibility a CDN provider carries when someone else is doing the copyright infringing. By offering services that customers can use to share files, they are furthering free speech and the free exchange of ideas, which is important. However, as the plaintiffs in this case argue, these CDN services have become critical tools to those who use them for copyright infringement purposes, which violates the rights of the copyright holders.
These issues are very similar those currently playing out in American courts. While questions remain as to how the courts will settle the laws in these areas, it is critically important to know the law and to work with experienced attorneys who are experienced in copyright law and in online infringement cases. There is a lot at stake for anyone involved in online copyright infringement claims.