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on their profiles.
By posting web content on their profiles, the user’s“friends” (or people whom the user authorizes to see his/her profile) can seethe web content that the user posted. Also, they can be invited to access it.Facebook boasts that over 30 billion pieces of content are shared everymonth.
This content includes, but is not limited to, Internet links, videos,web pages, photos, and any other content that a user can find on the Internet.To take a single act as the basis for the question posed here, and to serve alsoas an illustrative example; a user can go to YouTube, select a video, which theuser knows (or should know) that is infringing of the artist’s rights, and“shares” it on his
In a simple sequence of acts that can take less thanten seconds, the user has now made the link available to possibly hundreds(or even thousands) of his or her “friends.”
Assuming now that the content being shared is infringing, is the user who “shares” it guilty of contributoryinfringement?This paper will analyze a situation in which millions of users findthemselves doing each day: sharing web content on their social networkingprofiles. Part II of this paper will discuss the exclusive rights that theCopyright Act affords authors and the remedies those authors have to protect their rights, including but not limited to the two prevailing theories of secondary infringement, namely (1) contributory infringement and (2)vicarious infringement, as well as a more recent development known asinfringement by inducement. Part III will discuss the
Perfect 10 v. Google
decision by the Ninth Circuit and its relevance to the situation before us,since said case deals with “in-frame linking,” a feature which is crucial to theFacebook “share” feature. Part IV will analyze the “sharing” feature in light of the doctrines discussed and determine if sharing content on a profile is akin
This article will not discuss the “video” feature found on Facebook. The “video” featureallows users to upload (onto the Facebook servers) their own videos, thereby embeddingthem onto their profiles. This feature is different than the “sharing” feature in regards to thepossible liability the user might incur since, if the video were to be infringing, the user wouldbe liable for direct infringement. This paper focuses on the possible contributoryinfringement liability that the user might incur when he “shares” preexisting content that isuploaded/hosted by an unrelated third party.
, http://www.facebook.com/applications/Posted_Items/2309869772#/press/info.php?statistics (last updated Dec. 2011).
Throughout the article I will refer to the user as a “he” since a gender neutral term resultsin confusing language given the many references I make to an individual user’s actions.
YouTube is a user-generated video portal that is owned by Google, Inc. Users can uploadtheir own videos onto YouTube and they are available for anyone to see.
Facebook has since lifted the limit it used to impose on the maximum number of “friends” auser could have. It was previously set to 5,000 users but has since been lifted.
Facebook To Lift 5,000 Friends Limit
(Friday, May 9th, 2008)http://techcrunch.com/2008/05/09/facebook-to-lift-5000-friends-limit/ (last accessed onApril 14
Perfect 10 v. Google, Inc., 416 F. Supp. 2d 828 (C.D. Cal. 2006).