The Copyright Principles Project: Directions for Reform

72 Pages Posted: 27 May 2011

See all articles by Pamela Samuelson

Pamela Samuelson

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: 2010


Copyright law is under considerable stress these days, particularly due to technological advances and the growth of global networks. In recognition of these stresses, the Copyright Principles Project (CPP) was formed to consider whether and what possible improvements could be made to existing U.S. copyright law. Participants brought to the project a range of expertise and experience developed in academia, the copyright industry, and law firms. Over the course of three years and in the spirit of dialogue and good will, the CPP group engaged in vigorous debate and deliberation, mapping the terrain of U.S. copyright law and policy and identifying key issues for consideration. Project findings are presented in this report.

The report first articulates principles of a well-functioning copyright law, then analyzes respects in which existing copyright law does or does not comport with these principles. The report then explores twenty-five possible reforms to U.S. copyright law that would bring it into greater conformity with the principles. Among the recommendations: reinvigorate copyright registration; modernize the Copyright Office; limit orphan works liability; and develop reasonable and consistent statutory guidelines for damage awards. Some of the changes can be brought about only by legislative action, while others can be accomplished through common law evolution.

While there is no one “silver bullet” that can relieve all the difficulties, maintain or renew public confidence in copyright, and bring calm to copyright industries, it is hoped that the CPP report will spur further discussion and movement, grounded in principle, to adapt the law and achieve a fair balance of interests among all stakeholders in the copyright sphere.

Suggested Citation

Samuelson, Pamela, The Copyright Principles Project: Directions for Reform (2010). Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 25, 2010, UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1851857, Available at SSRN:

Pamela Samuelson (Contact Author)

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

Boalt Hall
341 North Addition
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
(510) 642-6775 (Phone)
(510) 643-2673 (Fax)

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