Digital Copyright and Confuzzling Rhetoric

60 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2011 Last revised: 22 Oct 2013

See all articles by Peter K. Yu

Peter K. Yu

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: March 3, 2011


The entertainment industry tells people they shouldn’t steal music because they wouldn’t steal a car, but has anybody ever downloaded a car? Music fans praise Napster and other file-sharing services for helping to free artists from the stranglehold of the music industry, but how many of these services actually have shared profits with songwriters and performing artists? Industry representatives claim that people use YouTube primarily to listen to or watch copyrighted contents, but are they missing a big piece of the user-generated content picture? Artists are encouraged to forget about copyright and hold live concerts instead, but can all artists succeed under this alternative compensation model?

For more than a decade, policymakers, industry representatives, consumer advocates, civil libertarians, academic commentators, and user communities have advanced a wide array of arguments for or against online file sharing and restrictive copyright standards. This article begins by introducing two short stories to illustrate the rhetorical and analytical challenges in the digital copyright debate. It then examines eight unpersuasive arguments advanced by both sides of the debate - four from the industry and four from its opponents. The article concludes by outlining six different strategies to help the industry develop more convincing proposals for digital copyright reform.

Suggested Citation

Yu, Peter K., Digital Copyright and Confuzzling Rhetoric (March 3, 2011). Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Vol. 13, pp. 881-939, 2011, Drake University Law School Research Paper No. 11-23, Available at SSRN:

Peter K. Yu (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX Tarrant County 76102
United States


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