A Critical Analysis of the Competing Bases of Liability For Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

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Reproduced with permission from Antitrust & Trade Regulation Report, 102 ATRR 780, 06/15/2012. Copyright 2012 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

Peer-to-peer (‘‘P2P’’) file sharing software of one type or another has been downloaded worldwide over 600 million times.

These programs, such as Gnutella, KaZaA, and Bit- Torrent, allow users to copy and transfer copyrighted music from one user to another, free of charge. While P2P programs represent a significant and beneficial technological achievement, they have also spawned an unprecedented era of rampant and pervasive copyright infringement of musical works. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (‘‘IFPI’’) has stated that the ratio of unauthorized to authorized music downloads is more than 40:1. Although iTunes, the leading authorized online music distributor, has sold over six billion songs, it has been estimated that P2P file sharing accounts for over four billion songs a month—a ratio of approximately 150:1.

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