P2P File Sharing and Copyright Infringement

By Elliot M. Zimmerman

Some view the internet as an abandoned warehouse filled with free pictures, music, video and text files fixed o­n a hard disk somewhere out there in cyberspace. Granted, some files are not protected by copyright law because the material contained in them has entered the public domain. In some instances, the use of certain files may constitute a fair use under 17 U.S.C. 107 et seq. On the other hand, the use and sharing of other files may lead to severe civil and criminal penalties under 17 U.S.C. 501 et seq.

The article is limited to United States copyright law’s regulation of person to person or peer to peer (“P2P”) file sharing over the internet. Wherever possible, Florida citations have been used to illustrate the general principles of copyright law.

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