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Lawsuit targets web services that aid copyright infringement

California is known for its robust internet technology sector, and the rise of online content has created new venues where copyright infringement can take place. The case of the American Chemical Society against Sci-Hub illustrates the challenges of stopping infringement from international sources and holding third-party internet services accountable.

A court ruled in favor of the society's lawsuit against Sci-Hub, which stood accused of distributing freely scientific papers that people must normally pay to read. The court approved a $4.8 million award to the ACS, but Sci-Hub is unlikely to pay. The site operates beyond the court's jurisdiction in Russia. The founder of the site has made public statements about his intention to ignore the outcomes of U.S. lawsuits.

The ruling on the ACS case, however, included an order that web hosting sites, internet service providers, domain registrars and search engines must stop directing people to sites that unlawfully distribute protected content. Others have raised concerns about the scope of legal orders against third-party internet companies. One data scientist said that a case like this could end up requiring companies to act as censors on behalf of the government. The Computer and Communications Industry Association, in its amicus brief filed alongside the lawsuit, wanted the order to block search engines stripped from the case.

Businesses often must defend their intellectual property to prevent significant financial losses. An attorney could write a cease and desist letter against an infringing party and prepare court filings to hold the party responsible for monetary losses experienced by the rights holder. Legal representation could assist a person with documenting a claim to a trade secret, copyright or patent.

Source: Science Mag, "Court demands that search engines and internet service providers block Sci-Hub", Dalmeet Chawla, Nov. 6, 2017

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