This article appeared in Entertainment Law & Finance, your monthly source for real-world news and strategy from major players in entertainment, contract and intellectual property law — serious analysis of the issues and case law that affect your practice.
Federal courts have long disagreed over whether the unauthorized “making available” of a plaintiff’s works to the public is sufficient to constitute copyright infringement under the U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §106(3). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holds the view that actual distribution of the works is required. See, e.g., Perfect 10 Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc., 487 F.3d 701 (9th Cir. 2007). The Fourth Circuit, on the other hand, has taken the position that for purposes of an infringement analysis, a library, for example, distributes a work when it “holds a copy in its collection, lists the copy in its card file, and makes the copy available to the public.” Hotaling v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 118 F.3d 199 (4th Cir. 1997).
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