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Copyright Law's Theory of the Consumer

37 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2003  

Joseph P. Liu

Boston College - Law School


Copyright law has a rather well-developed theory of the author, but it has no similarly well-developed conception of the consumer. This exploratory Article is an attempt to begin piecing together a coherent image of the copyright consumer. The author argues that copyright law currently conceives of consumers in one of two ways, either as passive consumers of copyrighted works or as active authors in their own right. This binary conception of the consumer, however, is incomplete, as it neglects important and complex consumer interests in autonomy, communication, and creative self-expression. By examining these additional interests, it is possible to begin constructing a richer and more complex image of the copyright consumer. This image, in turn, can help shed light on some of the current debates over the proper shape and scope of copyright law.

Suggested Citation

Liu, Joseph P., Copyright Law's Theory of the Consumer. Boston College Law Review, Vol. 44, 2003. Available at SSRN: or

Joseph Liu (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States
617-552-6377 (Phone)

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