V.K. Unni


Only a fool would question the role and relevance of Internet Service Providers in promoting the Internet. But, unfortunately, Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") are at the receiving end of many disputes involving Intellectual Property violations. The difficulty in pinpointing the real culprit has resulted in a piquant situation where the Internet Service Provider is often taken to court. United States' courts and courts of other advanced countries have confronted this issue since 1993 and have finally enacted specific legislation to solve this mind-boggling issue. The Indian Information Technology Act 2000 ("The Act"), enacted with much hype, is almost silent on this issue. Although it includes a sentence or two about ISP liability, the picture on this issue is a vague one. This paper attempts to evaluate the ISP picture in the U.S. before the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and passage of The Act. The position in Australia, including the most recent Act is also examined. The situation in Canada, (yet to enact a specific act), and that in Singapore, (the first country in Asia to enact such a law), are briefly mentioned. Finally, the latent defects in the latest Indian Law are analyzed, and some suggestions are made.