Preliminary Thoughts on Copyright Reform

17 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2007

See all articles by Pamela Samuelson

Pamela Samuelson

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law


The Copyright Act of 1976 is far too long, complex, and largely incomprehensible to non-copyright professionals. It is also the work product of pre-computer technology era. This law also lacks normative heft. That is, it does not embody a clear vision about what its normative purposes are.

This article offers the author's preliminary thoughts about why copyright reform is needed, why it will be difficult to undertake, and why notwithstanding these difficulties, it may nonetheless be worth doing. It offers suggestions about how one might go about trimming the statute to a more managemable length, articulating more simply its core normative purposes, and spinning certain situation-specific provisions off into a rulemaking process.

Thirty years after enactment of the '76 Act, with the benefit of considerable experience with computer and other advanced technologies and the rise of amateur creators, it may finally be possible to think through in a more comprehensive way how to adapt copyright to digital networked environments as well as how to maintain its integrity as to existing industry products and services that do not exist outside of the digital realm.

Keywords: copyright, reform, computer technology, digital networks

Suggested Citation

Samuelson, Pamela, Preliminary Thoughts on Copyright Reform. Utah Law Review, 2007, UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1002676, Available at SSRN:

Pamela Samuelson (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

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