Jeremy Sheff Raises Questions about Technology’s Intent

Associate Professor Jeremy Sheff raises a host of intriguing intellectual property questions regarding file sharing services. His post, which can be found at PrawfsBlawg, discusses the similarities between a new service offered by cloud storage company Dropbox and the technology that led the federal government to criminally indict the file-sharing service MegaUpload. The gist of Jeremy’s post is that what separates services that engage in impermissible copyright infringement from those that don’t is simply intent and that a system that turns on questions of intent is inherently uncertain.  Here is his bottom line:

“For my part, I look at all this as a lawyer who, in a former life, was sometimes called on to give clients guidance as to whether a course of action they were considering for their business would be likely to generate legal liability. I have to admit, I’d have a hard time giving a client like Dropbox useful advice today. And it strikes me that a legal regime that doesn’t allow a segment of our economic and social lives as fundamental as the information we exchange with one another to be planned with some degree of certainty isn’t doing its job very well.”

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