Trifecta: Creating P2P Software that Enables Fair Use

Abstract

In this paper we discuss P2P software called Trifecta that enables users to make fair use of copyrighted sound recordings encoded in computer media files (e.g. MP3). Copyright has traditionally served as both an economic incentive to encourage the creation and dissemination of literary and artistic works, and a regulatory structure enabling the public to gain access to the results of authors' original work. Maintaining such a delicate balance between authors and the public helps to promote the advance of knowledge and culture by stimulating its pursuit. Digital media, networked computers and P2P file sharing applications have posed new dilemmas to copyright because reproducing and distributing copyrighted works in digital formats are such trivial tasks for average users, as demonstrated by the recent popularity of P2P software used by millions to download music. However, it is possible to develop software that allows users to harness the convenience of P2P file sharing while still remaining within the boundaries of copyright law. Trifecta allows users to lend and stream sound recordings to friends and other personal acquaintances, two uses that we maintain are fair because private, noncommercial sharing and performance are consistent with the rights afforded to consumers by the first sale doctrine and the right of private performance.

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