The Nexus of Copyright and Intellectual Privacy

305 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2012

Date Written: April 1, 2012


For nearly three centuries following the enactment of the world’s first modern copyright statute, neither copyright law nor copyright holders interfered with individuals’ intellectual privacy — individuals’ freedom to access and enjoy creative works anonymously or in private. Neither Rights of Man, nor The Clockmaker were delivered to readers on condition that they provide detailed personal information to the author, publisher or bookseller; nor were readers monitored in their enjoyment of the works.

Contrasted against this historical backdrop, late in the twentieth century and continuing into the twenty-first century — concurrent with the rise and spread of digital networks and the increasing digitization of copyright works — the centuries-old relationship between copyright holders and individuals became strained. In particular, the relationship between copyright law, copyright holders and individuals’ intellectual privacy came into tension.

This dissertation proffers a description of intellectual privacy and, without making empirical claims, asks whether diminishing it in the name of copyright holders’ interests will lead to the impoverishment of the very copyright kingdoms that we purport to be protecting in so doing. In response to this question, this dissertation tests the hypothesis that individuals’ intellectual privacy is an essential component of copyright as a consistent and unified whole (even if it may mean that some individual copyright holders are not improved) and that copyright law can and should explicitly internalize protection of intellectual privacy. Ultimately, this dissertation formulates principles and five basic recommendations for rules to account for intellectual privacy within the legal concept of copyright. This dissertation concludes with a look ahead to further work to be done in the area.

Keywords: Privacy, copyright, intellectual privacy, data protection, Canada

Suggested Citation

Cameron, Alex, The Nexus of Copyright and Intellectual Privacy (April 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Alex Cameron (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5 K1N 6N5

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