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Indirect Liability for Copyright Infringement: Napster and Beyond

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  • William Landes
  • Douglas Lichtman

Abstract

When individuals infringe copyright, they often use tools, services, and venues provided by other parties. An enduring legal question asks to what extent those other parties should be held liable for the resulting infringement. For example, should a firm that produces photocopiers be required to compensate authors for any unauthorized copies made on that firm's machines? What about firms that manufacture personal computers or offer Internet access; should they be held liable, at least in part, for online music piracy? In this essay, we examine how modern copyright law addresses these questions and we evaluate the resulting system on economic grounds.

Suggested Citation

  • William Landes & Douglas Lichtman, 2003. "Indirect Liability for Copyright Infringement: Napster and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 113-124, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:17:y:2003:i:2:p:113-124
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533003765888467
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Novos, Ian E & Waldman, Michael, 1984. "The Effects of Increased Copyright Protection: An Analytic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 236-246, April.
    2. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1989. "An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 325-363, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Bechtold, 2015. "3D printing and the intellectual property system," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 28, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division.
    2. Tilman Klumpp, 2014. "File Sharing, Network Architecture, and Copyright Enforcement: An Overview," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(7), pages 444-459, October.
    3. Gil Ricard, 2006. "The Economics of IPR Protection Policies," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 1-21, September.
    4. Bellemare, Marc F. & Holmberg, Andrew M., 2010. "The Determinants of Music Piracy in a Sample of College Students," MPRA Paper 23641, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Langinier, Corinne & Marcoul, Philippe, 2009. "Contributory infringement rule and patents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 296-310, May.
    6. Zentner, Alejandro, 2006. "Measuring the Effect of File Sharing on Music Purchases," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 63-90, April.
    7. Richard Watt, 2011. "Indirect Copyright Infringement Liability for ISPs and The Economics of Contracts under Asymmetric Information," ICER Working Papers 16-2011, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    8. William M Landes, 2011. "Copyright," Chapters, in: Ruth Towse (ed.),A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 14, Edward Elgar Publishing.

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