Copyright Crime and Punishment: The First Amendment's Proportionality Problem

Margot E. Kaminski

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project; Yale University - Law School

August 7, 2013

Maryland Law Review, Vol. 73, 2013

The United States is often considered to be the most speech-protective country in the world. Paradoxically, however, the features that have led to this reputation have created areas in which the United States is in fact less speech protective than other countries. The Supreme Court’s increasing use of a categorical approach to the First Amendment has created a growing divide between the U.S. approach to reconciling copyright and free expression and the proportionality analysis adopted by most of the rest of the world.

The categorical approach minimizes opportunities for judicial oversight of copyright. Consequently, as corporations lobby for ever-increasing penalties and enforcement mechanisms, the United States has fostered one of the world’s least speech-friendly criminal copyright regimes, in letter and in practice. The United States is exporting that regime, including its presumption that copyright is unrelated to freedom of expression. Instead of exporting flawed presumptions, the United States should reintegrate proportionality concepts into First Amendment doctrine to examine the proportionality of sanctions for speech that has functionally been deemed unprotected by the First Amendment.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: Copyright, Criminal Copyright, First Amendment, International Law

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Date posted: August 9, 2013 ; Last revised: June 9, 2014

Suggested Citation

Kaminski, Margot E., Copyright Crime and Punishment: The First Amendment's Proportionality Problem (August 7, 2013). Maryland Law Review, Vol. 73, 2013. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2307241

Contact Information

Margot E. Kaminski (Contact Author)
Yale University - Yale Information Society Project ( email )
127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
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