[Noisebridge-discuss] Anti SOPA/PIPA Rally in SF during Internet Strike Day Tomorrow

Seth David Schoen schoen at loyalty.org
Tue Jan 17 15:20:06 PST 2012

Tony Longshanks LeTigre writes:

> On a tangentially related note, question about copyright: if you reproduce
> copyrighted material without permission, but with no intention of making
> money, & without making any money, is it still illegal? I suppose so, but
> I'm not sure.

Before 1997, you could be sued, but not criminally prosecuted, if your
acts of copyright infringement did not have a commercial motive.

In 1994, U.S. v. LaMacchia established that people found to be infringing
copyrights for purely altruistic or otherwise noncommercial reasons were
not criminally liable.  Congress took the judge's suggestion to change this
by enacting the No Electronic Theft Act, which creates criminal liability
for noncommercial infringements above a certain threshold.


See 17 USC §506:


People have been criminally prosecuted and served prison terms under the NET

Commercial intent is still a factor in determining whether an
unauthorized use is protected as a fair use.  See 17 USC §107:


However, it's not the only factor.  It's possible for a commercial use
to be a fair use, and it's possible for a noncommercial use to fail to
be a fair use.

Seth David Schoen <schoen at loyalty.org>      |  No haiku patents
     http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/        |  means I've no incentive to
  FD9A6AA28193A9F03D4BF4ADC11B36DC9C7DD150  |        -- Don Marti

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