A Unified Theory of Copyright
185 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2020
Date Written: June 9, 2009
This book is about the relationship between copyright law and the right to learn. It examines and attempts to reconcile the two existing and conflicting theories of copyright law: the natural law proprietary theory and the statutory grant-monopoly theory. The reason to attempt the reconciliation is this: In a free society, the necessity for informed citizens and consumers is fundamental. Uninhibited access to information—and the ability to process it critically—is central to our nation’s way of life, both politically and economically.
When, however, access to learning is controlled by copyright entrepreneurs seeking profits, the right to access is placed in jeopardy. The marketing monopoly that inheres in copyright represents a conflict between two fundamental tenets of American society: free speech and free enterprise.
The authors recognize that some of the ideas contained in this book—for example, the idea that copyright is more usefully viewed as a subset of public domain law rather than as a subset of property law, and thus would be best regulated on the basis of an easement theory—will not be well received by all. But the authors believe that the ideas present here are supported by history and will withstand the test of reason and logic.
Keywords: L. Ray Patterson, A Unified Theory of Copyright, copyright, copyright history, natural law proprietary theory, statutory grant-monopoly theory, public domain, easement theory, Statute of Anne, Copyright Clause, Copyright Act of 1976, free speech, free enterprise, fair use, defenses, remedies
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