Federal Communications Law Journal

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Publication Citation

51 Federal Communications Law Journal 823 (1999)


The Internet environment has presented copyright law with a development unlike any other this century. The illegal trading of copyrighted works has become easier than ever. Until recently, it was possible to hold online service providers strictly liable for the infringing actions of their users, regardless of whether the provider had knowledge of any infringing activity. While promoting the policy of copyright law, upholding such a standard had the potential to limit Internet speech and retard its growth. Seeing this, Congress began to debate on legislation that would protect innocent service providers from this liability. This Note argues that with the recent passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Congress did what was necessary: It provided an exemption to the notion of vicarious liability for online service providers that are innocently unaware of infringing activity. Further, it did so in such a way that providers can be confident in their understanding of the precautions that need to be taken so as to avoid such liability