The operator of a file-sharing network that utilized the BitTorrent file-sharing technology is secondarily liable for inducing copyright infringement by users of the network, a district court ruled. The court noted the unrebutted evidence proffered by the motion picture company plaintiffs establishing massive sharing of unauthorized copies of their copyrighted works on the network. The court found, among other things, that the plaintiffs showed that the defendant operator disseminated messages to users that were designed to stimulate them to commit infringement, and that the defendant and others under his control provided assistance to users in downloading and locating infringing files. The defendant also implemented technical measures aimed at promoting copyright infringement, such as the use of “spider” programs to locate and obtain copies of infringing files on other file-sharing networks, and profited from the infringement by selling advertising space on his Web site based upon the infringing content that was made available. The court rejected the defendant's claim to the safe harbors under DMCA 512(c) on the ground that the proof of the defendant's inducement of the infringing conduct established that the operator had reason to know of the infringing conduct on the part of users of the network.
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. v. Fung, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122661 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2009) Download PDF