Dealing with Overlapping Copyrights on the Internet

49 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 1996 Last revised: 12 May 2014

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This article addresses the problems presented by the effective overlap of copyright's exclusive rights in the context of transmission on computer networks. Simple activities such as sending email or posting to Web pages may implicate the reproduction right, the adaptation right, the distribution right, the performance and display rights, and the new digital performance as well as triggering liability for contributory infringement and under the proposed transmission right. The article suggests that this overlap creates serious problems not only for user rights and defenses, but also for copyright owners who wish to license only a subset of their rights or who wish to divide ownership of their copyright. The article considers as possible solutions to this problem a theory of implied license, as well as a unified statutory transmission right that displaces other exclusive rights.

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Lemley, Mark A., Dealing with Overlapping Copyrights on the Internet. University of Daytona Law Review, Vol. 22, p. 547, 1997, Available at SSRN: or

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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