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Dan Hunter

Swinburne Law School; New York Law School

Greg Lastowka

Rutgers School of Law

William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 46, December 2004

Copyright, it is commonly said, matters in society because it encourages the production of socially beneficial, culturally significant expressive content. However our focus on copyright's recent history blinds us to the social information practices which have always existed. In this article, we examine these social information practices, and query copyright's role within them. We posit a functional model of what is necessary for creative content to move from creator to user. These are the functions dealing with creation, selection, production, dissemination, promotion, sale, and use of expressive content. We demonstrate how centralized commercial control of information content has been the driving force behind copyright's expansion. However, all of the functions that copyright industries used to control are undergoing revolutionary decentralization and disintermediation. Different aspects of information technology, notably the digitization of information, widespread computer ownership, the rise of the Internet, and the development of social software, threaten the viability and desirability of centralized control over every one of the content functions. These functions are increasingly being performed by individuals and disorganized, distributed groups. This raises an issue for copyright as the main regulatory force in information practices, because copyright assumes a central control structure that no longer applies to creative content. We examine the normative implications of this shift for our information policy in this new post-copyright era. Most notably we conclude that copyright law needs to be adjusted in order to recognize the opportunity and desirability of decentralized content, and the expanded marketplace of ideas it promises.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 77

Keywords: Copyright, expressive content, culture, peer production

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Date posted: October 11, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Hunter, Dan and Lastowka, Greg, Amateur-to-Amateur. William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 46, December 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=601808

Contact Information

Dan Hunter (Contact Author)
Swinburne Law School ( email )
Cnr Wakefield and William Streets, Hawthorn Victor
3122 Victoria, Victoria 3122
New York Law School ( email )
185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
Greg Lastowka
Rutgers School of Law ( email )
217 N. 5th Street
Camden, NJ 08102-1203
United States
HOME PAGE: http://lastowka.rutgers.edu
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