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Copyright Infringement and Potential Technological Prevention Measures in UK Universities

Education and the Law Volume 16, Number 4, ISSN 0953-9964


"Sony Music v. Easyinternetcafe" has introduced a new facet to the debate concerning the copyright legality of peer-to-peer file transfer. The judgment and subsequent settlement has highlighted that companies offering services that are used to infringe copyright may be held to account in the UK courts. Liability may extend from the private to the public sector and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has reinforced this theme recently. In March 2003 every university in Britain received a letter pointing out the legal risks of universities acting as copyright infringement facilitators. By allowing students to download copyright material such as software, Mp3s and DVDs, universities and their vice-chancellors may face injunctions, damages, costs and potential criminal sanctions. This paper first, briefly reviews the history and literature concerning peer-to-peer file sharing and secondly provides a preliminary discussion of the heads of peer-to-peer copyright infringement liability with regard to UK universities. Although the law at present gives no clear precedent in regard to the university sector, the area is unlikely to remain static. It is feasible that student copyright infringement liability could be transferred to universities in the future if universities do not show due diligence when dealing with copyright infringement. Thirdly this paper outlines the technological and administrative actions that may be taken to satisfy the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and other copyright holders that UK universities are showing due diligence in preventing student copyright infringement. It is proposed that the university sector will follow the Internet service providers (ISPs) and will begin to work with the collecting and enforcement societies to prevent copyright infringement, perhaps in a similar way to the operation of the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA). This article puts forward two main reasons for this: First, to avoid the potential legal costs of a copyright infringement action and secondly as the majority of downloading of copyrighted Mp3s, DVDs and computer software does not constitute an academic pastime or fulfil any worthwhile university endorsed learning aims it should be actively discouraged. (Contains 1 figure, 1 table, and 75 notes.)


Van Hoorebeek, M. (2004). Copyright Infringement and Potential Technological Prevention Measures in UK Universities. Education and the Law, 16(4), 217-248. Retrieved December 13, 2019 from .

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