Free Access and the Future of Copyright

34 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2006

Date Written: Spring 2001


In the past, free distribution of copyrighted content was rare and was usually performed in the service of advertising or politics. Today, the ease of digital copying and distribution has enabled authors and artists to freely share digital copies of their creative and original works with broad audiences. Many creative people are availing themselves of this opportunity. Congress and the current copyright laws, however, remain largely oblivious to the concerns and contributions of these artists and authors. This paper argues that copyright laws need to be revised to take into account the role that free access content plays in the digital environment.

In sections I through V of this paper, I lay out three primary traditional business models of content distribution, as well as the challenges posed to these models by the digital dilemma. Section VI describes Congress' response to the digital dilemma as set forth in the DMCA. Sections VII and VIII explain how the DMCA fails to recognize and address important issues raised by free access content. Section IX offers a few brief suggestions on how to reform copyright law to address the interests of those who provide free access content.

Keywords: cyberlaw, intellectual property, copyright, moral rights, DMCA

JEL Classification: o3, o34, K1, K12

Suggested Citation

Lastowka, Greg, Free Access and the Future of Copyright (Spring 2001). Available at SSRN: or

Greg Lastowka (Contact Author)

Rutgers School of Law ( email )

Newark, NJ
United States


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