Problems with Jurisdiction of Copyright Infringement

As everyone is aware, significant challenges face copyright holders in enforcing their rights against infringers. There are not just a multitude of technological problems locating servers of those who host infringing material, there are a multitude of problems in bringing those who run the servers into Court. A copyright holder may be located in the United States, but an infringer may be located somewhere in Europe or Asia. This raises choice of law issues, where the laws of the nation where the servers are located may prevail over infringement issues rather than those of the United States.

Despite these difficulties, the United States Department of Justice has recently been successful bringing actions against alleged infringers, such as coordinating with authorities in Hong Kong and seizing a variety of assets from a site known as Megaupload, and continued legal pressure, along with Swedish authorities, to the Swedish site known as “Pirate Bay.” However, while small victories are being won at attempts to shut down alleged facilitators of copyright infringement, the individuals who run these websites and/or entities are not sitting idly while law enforcement forces try and surround them.

Pirate Bay, arguably the world’s largest, if not most famous, bit torrent peer-peer network and site, has announced that they are preparing to launch GPS controlled drones to be flown in low orbit over international waters in an attempt to escape civil and criminal liability for copyright infringement activities. A brief overview of the law surrounding international waters is, if a cause of action accrues on a ship in international waters, the law where the ship is registered (all ships are required to be registered to a host country) predominates. By way of example, if a passenger on a ship slips and falls on a boat registered in Brazil, the proper venue for a lawsuit would be Brazil (please note, this is ignoring contractual relations between the ship and passenger which could place venue elsewhere). Pirate Bay is cleverly seeking to avoid the jurisdiction of any country of the world by flying their drones in an area that is not under jurisdictional control of any sovereign nation.

Overall, if Pirate Bay is able to launch their aircraft, they would have a considerable argument their aircraft is free from any regulations or laws of any country, thus escaping the jurisdiction of a Court system. Of course, the nations of the world could enter into new treaties better defining the air over international waters or create an international registration process for aircraft such as that which exist for vessels, but that will be a long and complicated process and during all of negotiations, more and more copyrighted material will be illegally disseminated across the globe. That is a scary prospect for copyright holders. That’s the latest in the continuing on-going struggles for copyright holders to enforce their rights.

Bradley Legal Group, P.A. are Intellectual Property lawyers, Entertainment lawyers and Music lawyers servicing clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Nashville. We also affiliate with entertainment lawyers licensed in New York and Washington, D.C. © 2012 Bradley Legal Group, P.A.