COLUMBIA, SC - Most people know a little bit about this case. This decision, though a victory for Napster in its appeal of an injunction issued by a lower court, ultimately spelled the end for Napster. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Napster in overturning the injunction issued against it, holding that Napster may be able to show that it is a service provider within the meaning of
The court held that Napster was secondarily liable for the direct infringements of its users. In downloading and uploading music files, the users infringe the copyright holders' exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the works under 17 U.S.C. § 106.
The four fair use factors are: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
In evaluating the purpose and character of the use, the court determines whether the use is for commercial purposes and whether the use adds anything to the original work, giving the new work a different expression, meaning, or message. If the work is transformative, the use may not be infringing. The court found Arriba Soft's use of the thumbnail images to be commercial but not exploitative, since the images were not used to directly profit their web site. The court further held that Arriba Soft's use of the thumbnails was transformative, because its purpose was improve access to information and not to convey an artistic expression. The thumbnail images were an ineffective tool to convey the artist's expression, because the low resolutions of the images prevented users from effectively enlarging the images. (more)
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