The U.S Copyright Act May Apply to Infringements Outside the United States

The U.S Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a foreign company, that transmitted copyright protected content into the U.S. via an online platform, is liable for copyright infringement under the U.S. Copyright Act, although the Copyright Act lacks an explicit provision on extraterritorial application. 

The decision was delivered in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Canadian company with exclusive rights to broadcast certain programs in the U.S. The defendant, a Polish company that operated a Video-On-Demand (VOD) platform, enabled American viewers watching these programs through its platform. 

The Court of Appeals held that the application of the copyrights law shall be determined according to the territory in which the infringing act was committed. The Court ruled that the infringing act is the public performance by means of streaming copyright protected content. That act consists mainly of signals received and displayed in users’ computers in the United States. The court thus found that the relevant infringing act was committed in the U.S. which gives rise to a cause of action under the U.S Copyright Act, even though the act of public performance originated from Polish servers.