In this article, I will analyze the activities of peer-to-peer ("P2P") users to determine more precisely which, if any, of their actions infringe copyright. In Part II, I will describe the process of copyright lawmaking and the recent evolution of copyright law in response to technology. This discussion will include a brief description of conventional and P2P network technology. A copyright analysis of user activities on P2P networks follows in Part III, where I argue that the nature of copyright legislation requires courts to be especially careful and precise in determining the contours of infringing noncommercial conduct by members of the public. The analysis in Part II will lead to the conclusion that copying by P2P users does not infringe copyright, but distribution does. In Part IV, I address some strategic considerations affecting copyright enforcement and P2P networks, including some speculation about why the Napster case turned out the way it did, and why that is a problem. Finally, I propose the reinvigoration of Sony as a way to preserve the public benefit of P2P technology.
28 William Mitchell Law Review 1001 (2002).