Looking Ahead and Shaping the Future: Provoking Change in Copyright Law
Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA, Vol. 49, No. 2, Winter 2001
37 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 1, 2002
In recent years, the number of bills revising the U.S. Copyright Act has increased, the duration of copyright protection has grown, exceptions to rights under copyright law have been substantially altered, and the law has made abrupt deviations from customary trends and radical diversions from previous aims and ideals. Recent years also have brought a growth of new and related areas of the law to fill perceived gaps in copyright protection and to give legal rights where copyright ends. These developments, sometimes called "quasi-copyright," have the look and feel of copyright, but break from principles of copyright law by providing a new form of legal protection. Most of these developments have the support of significant industry groups that have strong interests in establishing rights in order to secure market strength for new or existing works.
International influences such as the Berne Convention, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) of the World Trade Organization, and the WIPO Copyright Treaty have spearheaded many fundamental changes in American law. The influence of international law is hardly consistent, and its acceptance is arguably not complete; however, international legal trends clearly have been a tremendous force on the shape of American copyright law. Unfortunately, congressional action in this environment leaves copyright law at risk of becoming a bulletin board for narrow interests. The statutes will consequently become nonfunctional and merely reflect private interests and not social policy. Ultimately, a flexible understanding of copyright is essential at a time when its conceptual underpinnings are beginning to erode and collapse.
Keywords: copyright, fair use, copyright formalities, Berne Convention, TRIPs
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation