Infringing streams - enforcement difficulties and recent US developments


Heiko Burow

Tackling illegal online streaming of copyrighted material is the next global challenge for copyright owners. Heiko Burow explains.

Traditionally, copyright infringement consisted of the unauthorised reproduction and distribution of tangible copies of a copyrighted work, such as through bootleg CDs, videotapes, or DVDs. With the Internet, copyright infringement proliferated through the downloading and swapping of digital files, mostly copied music and movies.

The expansion of the Internet, increase in available bandwidth, improvement of computer processing capacity, and ability to stream large-file content globally added a new dimension to copyright infringement. Innumerable websites offer music, movies, and television programmes to users for streaming consumption.

In this environment of streaming infringements, copyright owners face legal as well as practical hurdles to enforce their copyrights against infringers. To bring an infringement action against an infringer, the copyright owner must know who that infringer is or at least who would be able to identify the infringer (e.g. from the Internet service provider, or ISP, of the website used for the infringement).

PROTECT-IP Act, online piracy