Factbox - Major copyright infringement cases

AUCKLAND Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:16pm IST

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Here are some major copyright infringement cases:

Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. (1984)

Universal City Studios unsuccessfully sued Sony Corp in a U.S. court for copyright infringement over Sony's video cassette recorders.

The studio alleged that because consumers used recorders manufactured by Sony to record material copyrighted by Universal, Sony was liable for the copyright infringement.

The suit resulted in the Sony Doctrine, a principle which states that distributors of copying technology that is capable of commercially significant noninfringing use are shielded from liability for infringement committed by user, unless the distributors had knowledge of infringement and failed to act.

A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc. (2001)

In the first major case involving file sharing sites, record companies represented by the Recording Industry Association of America successfully sued online music file sharing site Napster for copyright infringement in a civil case.

The case ultimately led to Napster being ordered to remove music created by most mainstream U.S. musicians from its site. In September 2001, Napster agreed to pay $26 million to musicians and songwriters, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2002.

MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. (2005)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that peer-to-peer file-sharing service Grokster could be held liable for copyright infringement in a lawsuit brought by a group of U.S. entertainment companies led by MGM Studios.

Many files shared through Grokster contained copyrighted material. The company cited the Sony Doctrine to argue its innocence, and said it was not responsible for controlling file downloads because none of the files passed through its computers.

The court disagreed, saying Grokster was different from Sony because it knowingly promoted its service as a way to infringe copyright. Grokster shut down the site in November 2005.

Capitol Records Inc. et al v. Thomas-Rasset (2012)

A U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated a reinstated a $222,000 jury verdict against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, rejecting her arguments that the damages award was excessive and violated her due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Thomas-Rasset was one of 18,000 individuals sued by the Recording Industry Association of America between 2003 and 2008 in a legal assault meant to discourage people from illegally downloading songs from sites like Kazaa.

The decision addressed the music industry's ability to use the Copyright Act to pursue individuals who illegally download music from the Internet. The law allows copyright owners to recover damages between $750 and $150,000 per infringed work.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Additional reporting by David Ingram in WASHINGTON; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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