Chapter 8: Why protecting Internet service providers from liability for users’ copyright infringement has been a policy success
The character of Dr Pangloss is usually invoked in modern discourse as a means of expressing derision over the target’s naivety, cynicism or self-delusion for expressing satisfaction with the status quo, or more colorfully, for holding the view that this is the best of all possible worlds. This is a particularly common use among scholars who study the ever-dynamic Internet or scholars with a progressive bent who can always find room for improvement in the law. This author is no Dr Pangloss, but this chapter largely defends the legal status quo against an increasingly loud chorus of calls for change because, for the most part, the fundamental policy decision discussed below has struck a reasonable balance of interests in the contexts of the United States and the European Union (an important qualification). The policy decision is to shield providers of information society services from liability for copyright infringement for engaging in the necessary activities to provide these services or for infringing communications by users of the provider’s services under circumstances. This decision was taken at the turn of the millennium, when the legislators on both sides of the Atlantic amended copyright law to update its application to the digital environment and the information society through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) in the United States and the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) in the European Union.
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