Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2003


In the second half of the 1990s, copyright owners repeatedly sought Congress's help addressing the challenges posed by the Internet and other new technologies. Congress responded with a suite of new protections, including restrictions against circumvention, longer copyright terms, increased statutory damages, and criminalization of willful non-commercial infringement.

This Article examines the latter of those changes, effectuated through the No Electronic Theft Act (the "Act" or the "NET Act"). The Act represents a significant change to copyright law be cause it subtly shifts the paradigm underlying criminal copyright infringement.

Part I of this Article discusses the Act's development, from the LaMacchia case in 1994 through the President's signature in 1997. Part II discusses development since the Act's passage, including the difficulties implementing it and prosecutions brought under the Act. Part III analyzes the Act's consequences, including its weak effect on piracy and its misunderstanding of how to change warez traders' behavior. Part IV talks about problems created by the Act's scope, including the problems created by a weak definition of willfulness and a failure to distinguish between infringers and facilitators. Part V discusses a proposal to set an appropriate policy basis for imposing criminal liability for copyright infringement. The Article concludes with Part VI.

Included in

Internet Law Commons



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