Between protecting themselves from liability and
restricting free expression of subscribers, Internet service providers tread a fine line in
the United States.
See news story:
AOL not liable for unauthorized e-books
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) legislation was pushed by content owners and has been widely used to stamp out online sharing of music and other files. It even led to the arrest of Russian computer programmer, Dmitry Sklyarov, who was charged with distributing the Advanced eBook Processor, a product designed to circumvent copyright protection measures.
DMCA is considered by some as catering to the interests of content owners, allowing them to define rights that are not necessarily granted under U.S. copyright laws and precedents and that do not take into account consumer rights to fair use of content.
ISPs have pushed for a "safe harbor" from liability to prevent them from contributory copyright infringement if they do not knowingly act as a facilitator of copyright-infringing use of content, and if they take action to remove infringing content (section 202 of DMCA). They aggressively negotiated during the drafting of the DMCA, and their efforts will likely pay dividends as long as they continue to offer substantial noninfringing services.
(For a related commentary on copyright protection, see gartner.com.)
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