Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Inadvertent Filesharing

Thomas D. Sydnor, Progress & Freedom Foundation, and Lee Hollaar, University of Utah, have published "Inadvertent Filesharing Revisited: Assessing LimeWire's Responses to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform," as Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper No. 14.22. Here is the abstract.

This report on inadvertent filesharing was released by the authors of Filesharing Programs and Technological Features to Induce Users to Share, a groundbreaking analysis published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in March of 2007. This new report seeks to enhance understanding of the causes of inadvertent sharing by analyzing (1) recently released data that the distributors of the program LimeWire gave to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform before its July 24, 2007 hearing on inadvertent sharing, and (2) the efficacy of efforts to improve the LimeWire program since the Committee's hearing. The authors conclude that law enforcement should investigate whether filesharing programs deliberately perpetuate inadvertent filesharing.

The paper concludes that LimeWire's Response neither identifies material deficiencies in the analysis and conclusions of the USPTO Report nor offers credible, good-faith explanations of why LimeWire deployed five features that were known to cause users to share infringing and sensitive files inadvertently.

The authors also conclude that LimeWire has implemented potentially meaningful changes in ways that repeat past errors and will tend to perpetuate inadvertent sharing by both new and existing users of the LimeWire program.

The results of these two analyses lead the authors to renew the conclusion that they drew in the USPTO Report. State and federal law-enforcement agencies should aggressively investigate to determine whether distributors of popular filesharing programs intended to blunt the deterrent effects of copyright-enforcement lawsuits by duping users of their program into sharing files inadvertently.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

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