Self-Help in the Digital Jungle

University of Chicago Law School, John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Paper No. 59

26 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 1999

See all articles by Kenneth W. Dam

Kenneth W. Dam

University of Chicago - Law School; Brookings Institution

Date Written: March 1999


Self-help systems, protecting electronic content from unauthorized copying, are controversial, especially with copyright scholars who see them as endangering the fair use defense permitting certain forms of socially useful copying. Self-help systems, by harnessing both technology and the institution of contract instead of relegating contract providers to legal actions to enforce intellectual property rights, promise to expand the amount and diversity of content while reducing transactions and search costs. These systems also further moral rights of attribution and integrity. Such systems can evolve to accommodate fair users (especially through industry-wide standards setting), deter unauthorized copying through unobserved victim precaution, and strengthen social norms against such copying.

Suggested Citation

Dam, Kenneth W., Self-Help in the Digital Jungle (March 1999). University of Chicago Law School, John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Paper No. 59, Available at SSRN: or

Kenneth W. Dam (Contact Author)

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Brookings Institution ( email )

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