Until recently, media-rich online interactions were mostly unidirectional: multimedia content was delivered by the service provider to the user. Input from the user came almost exclusively in the form of text. Even when searching the Internet for images or audio, a user typically entered text into a search engine. In addition, search engines indexed multimedia content by analyzing not the content itself but the text surrounding it. This is rapidly changing. With the rise of multimedia-capable smartphones and wireless broadband, applications that allow users to search using non-textual inputs are quickly becoming popular. These applications go much further than simply allowing content to be uploaded and shared, which is already common to Web 2.0 applications; they actually respond to the user based on the input media.[...] These applications represent a new and growing category that I term media-rich input applications (MRIAs).[...] There are three unique attributes of MRIAs that differentiate them from legacy web behavior and therefore require new analysis. First, unlike legacy search applications in which the service provider makes a copy and presents it to the user, MRIA behavior requires the user to make a copy and present it to the service provider. Thus, the image of the book cover in the previous example is digitized by the user and sent to Google; it is not copied by Google and sent to the user in response to a search. Second, the copied content is not necessarily from the Internet; in our example it is from a physical book. Third, some of these technologies create derivative works in a way that simple web searching and indexing does not. This Essay examines how these unique features of MRIAs interact with current copyright doctrine and how the lack of protection for users may discourage innovation by developers of this new and exciting technology. This Essay also proposes a new user safe harbor that balances the interests of users in using MRIAs with the interests of copyright owners in protecting their exclusive rights.
David R. Krohn & Pekarek,
Media-Rich Input Application Liability,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol17/iss1/5