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Rethinking Sharing Licenses for the Entertainment Media

50 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2010  

Eric E. Johnson

University of North Dakota School of Law

Date Written: 2008


A new kind of copyright licensing scheme could significantly enhance the ability of ordinary citizens to make their own films, television shows, magazines, radio programs, and other media creations. Thanks to recent leaps in computer technology and electronics, regular folks now have the means to record and edit sound and video into high-quality productions. Thanks to broadband access to the internet, ordinary individuals also now have the means to distribute those productions to huge audiences. Before this citizen-producer revolution can realize its full potential, however, creators need access to media workparts – sound effects, background music, stock footage, stock photography, artwork, and other elements that greatly increase the potential quality and artistic range for projects undertaken by the general public.

This article lays the philosophical and legal groundwork for a new licensing scheme designed to foster a thriving exchange of media workparts among citizen creators. The licensing system, dubbed “copysquare,” follows in the footsteps of the open-source free-software and Creative Commons movements, but employs new licensing mechanics to surmount barriers to the sharing of media workparts – barriers that prior licensing regimes do not overcome. The basic requirements of the copysquare license are: (1) a notification requirement, (2) a right to reject, and (3) a favored-nations provision.

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Eric E., Rethinking Sharing Licenses for the Entertainment Media (2008). Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2008. Available at SSRN:

Eric E. Johnson (Contact Author)

University of North Dakota School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202-9003
United States


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