The internet is becoming a progressively more widespread medium for personal communication and an indispensable means of commerce. As it grows, the unfortunate by-products of traditional commercial and personal interactions become more and more prevalent online. Ever more business deals (ranging from simple purchases of goods too complicated contracts are done on the internet. (COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT) Various forms of harassment, slander, fraud and other “informational” torts and crimes may be committed on the internet. As part of their services Internet Service Providers (ISPs) often give their clients the means to make documents available over the internet to the public at large. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT



ISPs services are based on their functional character: an access provider, which concerns an end user’s computer to the Internet, using cables or wireless technology or also facilitating the equipment to access the Internet. Secondly, a transit, provider which allows interaction between a computer and the access provider and hosting providers, and its function is merely the transmission of data. Thirdly, a hosting provider has one or several computer with available space or “servers” with access to transit providers, which may be used for its own purpose or for use by third parties. Finally content provider refers to those who use the above infrastructure to make available to end users the most diverse information, including web pages, services, email, connection between different end users and as many other possible as the mind can conceive by delivering content created by the provider itself or by intermediaries or third parties[1]. For instance, an ISP may offer its clients with more than just an email account and right of entry to the web; it may give them the privilege to upload files (as well as web pages) to the ISP’s openly available servers. These files may be accessed or of necessity be copied by members of the general population. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT



Acts of communication through the internet, regardless of content, pass through complex technological infrastructure, consisting of very different physical and logical elements, each controlled by an operator. The participation of these operators is subject to the regulations of each relevant territory, whether the rules concerning general communications services or the specific rules governing the provision of internet-related services. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT


Online copyright violation happens when a copyrighted work, such as a song, movie, artwork, or text is copied, customized, displayed or performed devoid of the copyright owner’s endorsement. The plaintiff holds ISP as contributed to the infringement (contributory infringement) or the ISP supervised and profited from the infringement (vicarious infringement). COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT


In the case of Oriental Press Group Limited & Ors vs. Fevaworks Solutions Limited[2], the Hong Kong High Court found the host of a popular online forum liable on one occasion for failing to remove defamatory statements posted by its subscribers. The plaintiff, in this case, relied on the English Case of Godfrey vs. Demon Internet Ltd[3] which held that the defendant internet service providers (ISPs) were liable for anonymous postings of defamatory statements on a newsgroup accessed through the ISP. The ISP did not take away the postings pending about 10 days after the appeal made by the plaintiff to do so. The court in Godfrey was of the analysis that the transmission of a defamatory posting from the storage space of news serves constituted “journal” of that posting to any subscriber who accessed the newsgroup containing those postings. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT



However, the defendants relied on English case Bunt vs. Tilley[4] in which the defendants (ISPs and website hosts) succeeded in striking out a claim against them. The court in Bunt was of the view that ISPs do not participate in the process of publication but merely act as facilitators in a similar way to postal services it was held that publication is a question of fact that depends on the circumstances, in particular, the knowledge on the part of the defendant of the defamatory words.


It should be noted that under the theories of vicarious liability or contributory infringement, ISPs that allow clients to place unauthorized, copyrighted information on the internet might be liable for breach, although their only input to the infringement was the provision of supercomputer equipment used by other to make and share out not permitted copies. Because the internet is blowing up popularity in a relatively new observable fact, there have not been a huge number of court decisions with reference to ISP liability for copyright infringement. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT






[1] Claudio, R.G and Carlos, L.G (2011) Liability of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Latin America, p.2

[2] (2008) HCA 2140

[3] (2001) QB 201

[4] (2007)1 WLR 1243

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