A more recent development in the sphere of copyright infringement laws is the concept of Secondary Liability. Although the doctrine has been in place since a long time, effective use and implementation was acquired more recently. ( Breyer, Stephen 2008 pp. 299-310)
The basic concept around Secondary Liability is to penalize or make liable all those service provides who are profiting by doing copyright violations, especially if these same people are in a position to control or contain it. A perfect example of where Secondary Liability applies is in cases like, the old Napster, Morpheus, Limewire and Torrents. When Napster first came on the scene it caused a global uproar in the artist community who felt that the free distribution of their work was a serious infringement of copyright rules. Sponsors and advertisers however saw this as an excellent opportunity to increase coverage for their products and services and made the most of advertising on these networks.
Due to its coverage and size of audience, Napster made enormous profits before it was taken to court by the artist community for distribution of free music. Today with the development in technology, Secondary Liability has become even more important part of US law. Companies have taken advantage of relatively simple concept of Napster (peer – to – peer networking) and taken it to new level in the digital age. This has put into question the very basis of Secondary Liability. Originally, Secondary Liability was put into place to discourage organizations from using illegal copyrighted works as a means to publicize their products or services. The fact that it has been inadvertently applied on services in the digital age, has led courts to play a balancing act between liability of service providers and their disconnect from commercial terms. ( Breyer, Stephen 2008 pp. 312-315)