Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rogue Website Seizure By Department of Justice and a Bumpy Week in Copyright Law

Courtesy Techdirt, a copy of the Megaupload indictment is embedded below. The indictment is against an alleged "rogue website" that allegedly facilitates copyright infringement.

Recently Congress has initiated legislation, the Protect-IP Act ("PIPA") and the Stop Online Piracy Act ("SOPA"). These efforts were purportedly aimed at rogue websites. Critics charged that the laws would permit copyright owners to shut down legitimate websites without due process of law, contained problematic security measures (DNS masking) and would have an overall severe chilling effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights relating to copyright's fair use doctrine, which permits use of copyrighted works for certain purposes. The legislation seems to have stalled in the wake of an internet/tech community uproar, culminating in blackouts by popular websites such as Wikipedia.

Right as all of this was happening, the Justice Department's seized of Megaupload basically doing what SOPA and PIPA proponets claimed they could not do, more from Techdirt on the details here. Breaking news here.

Perhaps most significant was the US Supreme Court's decision in Golan v. Holder (see my last post for a copy). The Supreme Court stated really for the first time that Congress could use the Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution to take materials from the public domain.

This is a dramatic and sweeping statement and it will change the battleground in the copyright wars for the decades to come.  I was fortunate enough to attend a luncheon with Maria Pallante, Register of Copyrights, last Thursday in Washington, DC and to discuss the Golan decision with her.  The luncheon was sponsored by the Capitol Hill Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

 Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2011 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

SOPA/PIPA proponents claim they can't touch rogue sites that don't have a significant US jurisdictional nexus, not rogue sites in general. Megaupload hosted its servers in the US, providing the necessary jurisdictional nexus - had they hosted overseas, it's far less clear this would have been possible, and that's the target SOPA/PIPA proponents have been aiming for all along.