Competition Law and Copyright Misuse
UN COCKTAIL DE DROIT D'AUTEURS, Ysolde Gendreau, ed., Les Éditions Thémis, pp. 55-90, 2007
37 Pages Posted: 17 May 2007 Last revised: 8 May 2023
In the past two decades, copyright protection throughout the world has been greatly expanded to respond to challenges posed by new communications technologies and copyrightable subject matters. As protection has increased, the growing power of copyright owners has also led to market abuses that stifle competition and innovation. In response to these abuses, courts, litigants, policy makers, and commentators have increasingly embraced competition law, the doctrines of copyright misuse and unclean hands, and tort law concepts as counter-balancing tools. This article discusses four different types of abuse that has occurred in the copyright area and examines the various legal doctrines that have been employed by Canadian and U.S. courts to resolve cases involving such abuse.
The first section discusses the limited monopolies of copyright owners and the various safeguards that have been built into the copyright system. Using five recent cases - four in the United States and one in Canada - this Part highlights the growing abuse of copyright by its owners in recent years. The second section discusses the uneasy relationship between copyright law and the law of monopolies. It explores four categories of abuse cases and how the law has been applied in these cases. The final section examines legal doctrines that lie outside competition law, but have yet to be used to deal with copyright abuse. In particular, this Part discusses the doctrines of copyright misuse and unclean hands and the claims of abuse of process and tortious interference.
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