Document Type


Publication Date



It has become fashionable, among some thinkers and activists in copyright and related fields, to disparage or to deplore copyright protection. For one drawn to copyright both for its intellectual fascination and its inspiring goals of fostering creativity and protecting authorship, I am distressed to learn that I am among the defenders of a fallen faith, that authors' rights are misguided (if not pernicious) impediments to technological progress, and, worst of all, that copyright blocks freedom of thought and speech in cyberspace. Digital agendas notwithstanding, some of this derogatory discourse is not new; infringers have long found eloquent, if somewhat cynical, ways to justify piracy in the name of progress (not to mention the First Amendment).

But today's copyright detractors invoke additional rationales. Where Professor Paul Goldstein declared in a 1991 Brace Lecture that copyright was about authorship, we now learn that copyright is "a law of users' rights." Thus recharacterized, exclusive rights for authors are to be tolerated only so far as they enhance the instruction, or perhaps the convenience, of users.


Intellectual Property Law | Law