Software Piracy Question

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I know a person who is the system administrator and owner of a FTP
server that happens to contain over 20GB of pirated software, cracked
games, etc. Since we are dealing with copyright infringement and
software licensing he/she asked me to take a look at the disclaimer
and figure out his/her liability. Before logging on to the system,
the following message pops up (Be nice, the person is not exactly a
scholar of English):


By logging onto this server, you agree that this is a backup server
only; you can only download files you uploaded. You also agree that
the administrators are always right in what they do, you are on THEIR
server, so you forfeit any rights you think you may have while
connected to this server.
If you are, or have ever worked for ANY Law Enforcement agency,
regulatory commission, or if you report to any regulatory agencies,
work for or report to any software company or the SPA, then you MUST
disconnect at once. You may then leave the system administrator
feedback regarding what company or agency you are employed with and
what your purpose for connecting to this system is.
Failure to do so would be construed as entrapment if any legal action
were taken against the system administrator at any time."

Basically my friend portrays the system as storage space on the
Internet. Does anyone know or have any opinions as to how much
trouble (if any) he/she can get into for owning this FTP server? How
liable are the system administrators? Does the disclaimer help? Maybe
our friends at Harvard can help us out here.

-- James Kim, October 14, 1999


I'm afraid your friend is out of luck.

Read the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in the readings for next week (additional resources for this topic). Look at section 202. You'll see that your friend has to (a) not know the material is there, and (b) take steps to remove it in response to notification that there is infringing material on the server.

-- Hal Abelson, October 14, 1999