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1998 ended with voluminous copyright legislation, pompously titled the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" [hereafter "DMCA"], and intended to equip the copyright law to meet the challenges of online digital exploitation of works of authorship. 1999 and 2000 have brought some of the ensuing confrontations between copyright owners and Internet entrepreneurs to the courts. The evolving caselaw affords an initial opportunity to assess whether the copyright law as abundantly amended can indeed respond to digital networks, or whether the rapid development of the Internet inevitably outstrips Congress' and the courts' attempts to keep pace.

In titling this Article "Copyright Use and Excuse on the Internet," I am inquiring into the evolving allocation of power between copyright owners and copyright using Internet entrepreneurs. While the DMCA may have appeared to weight the balance toward copyright owners, many of the current challenges do not directly implicate the DMCA. Moreover, to the extent that the cases call for interpretation of the DMCA, the results so far have been mixed, albeit at last count somewhat more favorable to copyright owners. Finally, whatever the results in a given case, significant questions remain about the practical enforceability of the DMCA's provisions regarding circumvention of technological protections, and removal or alteration of copyright management information.

I will address recent Intemet-related controversies concerning the following topics: technological protection measures and copyright management information; fair use and linking; "private" copying online services; and choice of law issues posed by foreign websites accessible in the U.S.


Intellectual Property Law | Law