Harry Potter and the Three-Second Crime: Are We Vanishing the De Minimis Doctrine from Copyright Law?
59 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2005 Last revised: 26 Mar 2009
This paper examines the importance of the de minimis doctrine in copyright law and these potential conclusions. It evaluates the history of application of the de minimis doctrine in copyright law, establishing that courts have long turned to the doctrine for guidance in copyright decisions. Further, it reviews legislative history to determine whether the application of the de minimis doctrine is indeed contrary to Congressional purposes, as recent decisions suggest, and if there may be sufficient justification for its abolition in connection with sound recordings only. It studies the effects of the doctrine's elimination, evaluating whether copyright law written without the understood de minimis doctrine would be a workable regime. Finally, the paper questions whether revocation of the de minimis doctrine helps or hinders the "Progress of Science and the useful Arts", asking whether policy dictates that the technological ease of copying should in fact lead to the less stringent application of copyright law to future works.
Keywords: Copyright, de minimis, intellectual property, civil procedure, music sampling, sound recordings
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