Equating Cybertravel with Physical Travel: the Key to Preserving a Borderless Internet Without Violating U.S. Copyright Law

Source: Hulu

By Michal Nowicki

Download full note here.

This Note explores the legality of cybertravel— the use of technological measures to trick a website into believing that the user is accessing it from a different location — under § 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to access territorially-restricted, copyright-protected digital content not available in the user’s physical location. Internet users cybertravel to bypass territorial restrictions for several reasons, including to access television shows and movies before they lawfully become available in their home country, and to access otherwise unavailable live streams of live events with less commercial interruptions. Although this Note concedes that the plain language of the DMCA seems to outlaw copyright-infringing cybertravel, it encourages courts to exclude such cybertravel from DMCA coverage by equating it with physical travel. If adopted, this approach would shield cybertravelers from civil liability because they would be legally deemed within the authorized viewing territory while they would be faking their location. As this Note explains, governments should not crack down on cybertravel because it offers unique business, educational, and cultural opportunities, because it reduces piracy, and because it promotes a borderless Internet, protecting our fundamental free speech and privacy rights.

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