Friday, 06 May 2011 21:08


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Earlier this week, CNET and its parent company, CBS, were sued by a coalition of artists led by Alki David –-a film producer with along-standing vendetta against CBS – for "direct[ly] participat[ing] in massive copyright infringement.” The dispute, which arises from links posted to LimeWire and other peer-to-peer systems via CNET’s website, has the potential to shed additional light on the doctrine of secondary infringement liability. Specifically, the case will turn on whether CNET’s actions can be characterized as “inducing” or “encouraging” copyright infringement. 

In this respect, it bears noting that peer-to-peer systems, while capable of being used for illegal ends, are not themselves illegal; consequently, merely posting a link that permits users to download the software will, alone, not constitute “inducement” or “encouragement” to infringe. As noted by the Plaintiffs, however, also provides reviews and articles pertaining to the linked-to software. The Plaintiffs have sifted through and gathered a number of these articles and reviews which they claim will evidence that CNET – vis-à-vis its reviewers – has tacitly encouraged infringement. By way of example, the Plaintiffs cite an article in which a CNET reviewer references the availability of multiple peer-to-peer systems that can “satisfy the software sweet tooth.” 

Given the foregoing, the most interesting aspect of this case may be finding out how a court will interpret the inducement and encouragement standard as applied to a website devoted to criticism which, unlike print criticism, has the capability to directly and immediately linking users to a product. Until then,the defendant has, for its part, inserted a new disclaimer clarifying that “CBS Interactive does not encourage or condone the illegal duplication or distribution of copyrighted content.

Click herefor a more expansive newsstory.

Click here to find out just how much the plaintiff hates CBS.

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Francisco Ferreiro

Mr. Ferreiro earned his bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Florida. He earned his law degree with honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he also served as Research Editor for the Florida Law Review. He concentrates his practice in Trademark Prosecution, Intellectual Property Litigation, and Copyright Law. Mr. Ferreiro is admitted to practice law in Florida and New York state courts, as well as in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.