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Napster

The practice of sharing copyrighted files was unregulated for almost two years. A highly publicized copyright lawsuit turned the tables. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) accused Napster of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by allowing copyrighted material to be illegally distributed through the Napster network. Napster facilitated two parties in finding each other in order to break the law—knowingly and repeatedly.

Napster's defense was that it was an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Therefore, it was not Napster's responsibility to monitor user activity, and Napster was protected under a “safe harbor” clause of the DMCA. The law protects an ISP by not holding it accountable for a crime committed when one of its users transcribes copyrighted text and transmits it through email.


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