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Consumer Modification of Copyrighted Works

66 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2006  

Alan L. Durham

University of Alabama - School of Law


Much existing scholarship focuses on the rights of authors to modify copyrighted works; this article explores of the rights of consumers. Advances in technology are providing consumers new opportunities to alter copyrighted works for their private enjoyment. The recent dispute involving the ClearPlay technology for skipping offensive content in DVDs demonstrates how important, and how controversial, the clash of interests between authors and consumers may be. In this article, I consider the state of the law on consumer modifications and the arguments, both economic and non-economic, for expanding or restricting the freedom of consumers. A distinction can be drawn between modifications performed on behalf of consumers and modifications performed by consumers, perhaps using tools supplied by others. I conclude by advocating a "safe harbor" for certain modifications performed by consumers for their own use.

Keywords: intellectual property, copyright, consumer, fair use, de minimis, infringement, license

Suggested Citation

Durham, Alan L., Consumer Modification of Copyrighted Works. Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 81, p. 851, 2006; U of Alabama Public Law Research Paper No. 920150. Available at SSRN:

Alan L. Durham (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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