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Speaking of the Copyright Act of 1909, noted copyright scholar Benjamin Kaplan had this to say about the role of judges therein:

[T]he statute, like its predecessors, leaves the development of fundamentals to the judges. Indeed the courts have had to be consulted at nearly every point, for the text of the statute has a maddeningly casual prolixity and imprecision throughout....

Judges, however, who in recent times have inclined against brutality, have run the risk of appearing slightly ridiculous in their tortuous interpretations.

The Copyright Act of 1976 was designed to avoid this imprecision and overt reliance on judicial creativity. Supposedly comprehensive in its coverage, and the result of delicate compromises, its provisions were crafted to avoid the problems that had brought its predecessors into disrepute.


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