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Sega Enterprises Ltd. v. MAPHIA, 948 F. Supp. 923, 41 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1705 (N.D. Cal. 1996) (full-text).
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
A federal judge has held that the defendant, a BBS operator, was distributing pirated versions of Sega videogames. The BBS was apparently established specifically to permit the uploading and downloading of videogames. Unlike Netcom, AOL or other ISPs, which have thousands (and in some cases millions) of users, and which cannot monitor the activities of all of the users to insure that they are not engaging in infringing activities, the defendant knew what its approximately 400 users were doing, and what they were paying their monthly fee for.
The defendant claimed that such copying was a fair use because it was for home use only. The court held that since the defendant had not uploaded or downloaded the software, it could not be liable for direct infringement. However, the court ruled that since the defendant knew of the infringing activities and substantially participated in them by inducing, causing or materially contributing to the infringing conduct, the defendant was liable for contributory infringement.