Copyright, Death, and Taxes

43 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2011 Last revised: 20 Aug 2012

See all articles by Edward Lee

Edward Lee

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology

Date Written: October 6, 2011


The Copyright Act of 1976 is due for a major revision in the 21st century, in order to keep pace with the advances in digital technologies. This Article offers a new alternative for copyright reform: tax law. Using the tax system as a way to modernize our copyright system offers several advantages. Most important, tax law can fix problems in our copyright system without violating the Berne Convention or TRIPS Agreement, and without requiring amendment to either treaty. Tax law can also be used to incentivize the copyright industries to adopt new, innovative approaches to copyright in ways that voluntary reforms like Creative Commons cannot. The tax approach has the added benefit of offering, beyond the “one size fits all” approach, greater tailoring of copyrights by both industries and individuals – which may, in turn, lead to greater efficiency.

Keywords: TRIPS Agreement, Berne Convention, Creative Commons, copyright reform, tax, formalities, copyright term, open source

JEL Classification: H20, K39, K33

Suggested Citation

Lee, Edward, Copyright, Death, and Taxes (October 6, 2011). Wake Forest Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Edward Lee (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law - Illinois Institute of Technology ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States

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