Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


p2p file-sharing, copyright


The doctrine of authorizing copyright infringement has been used to deal with the marketing of new Ttechnology that might be employed by a user to infringe copyright, from the distribution of blank cassette tapes and double-cassette tape recorders to photocopiers. It is being tested yet again with the distribution of peer-to-peer file-sharing software that enables the online exchange of MP3 music and other copyrighted files. This article looks at the different positions adopted in several Commonwealth jurisdictions, and examines the policy considerations behind these positions. It looks at, in particular, the recent Australian case of Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd. v. Sharman License Holdings Ltd. While many copyright infringement issues involve a balancing of the copyright owner’s interests against the alleged infringing user’s interests, the authorization concept is compounded by the further competing interests of promoting technology, as well as the interests of legitimate users who deploy the technology in lawful ways. The court’s challenge is to find an acceptable equilibrium among these interests.