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What We Don't See When We See Copyright As Property, Jessica Litman Nov 2018

What We Don't See When We See Copyright As Property, Jessica Litman


For all of the rhetoric about the central place of authors in the copyright scheme, our copyright laws in fact give them little power and less money. Intermediaries own the copyrights, and are able to structure licenses so as to maximise their own revenue while shrinking their pay-outs to authors. Copyright scholars have tended to treat this point superficially, because – as lawyers – we take for granted that copyrights are property; property rights are freely alienable; and the grantee of a property right stands in the shoes of the original holder. I compare the 1710 Statute of Anne, which created statutory ...

What Notice Did, Jessica D. Litman Jan 2016

What Notice Did, Jessica D. Litman


In the twenty-first century, copyright protection is automatic. It vests in eligible works the instant that those works are first embodied in a tangible format. Many Americans are unaware of that, believing instead that registration and copyright notice are required to secure a copyright. That impression is understandable. For its first 199 years, United States copyright law required authors to take affirmative steps to obtain copyright protection. The first U.S. copyright statute, enacted by Congress in 1790, required the eligible author of an eligible work to record the title of the work with the clerk of the court in ...

Authority And Authors And Codes, Michael J. Madison Jan 2016

Authority And Authors And Codes, Michael J. Madison


Contests over the meaning and application of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) expose long-standing, complex questions about the sources and impacts of the concept of authority in law and culture. Accessing a computer network “without authorization” and by “exceeding authorized access” is forbidden by the CFAA. Courts are divided in their interpretation of this language in the statute. This Article first proposes to address the issue with an insight from social science research. Neither criminal nor civil liability under the CFAA should attach unless the alleged violator has transgressed some border or boundary that is rendered visible ...

Silent Similarity, Jessica D. Litman Apr 2015

Silent Similarity, Jessica D. Litman


From 1909 to 1930, U.S. courts grappled with claims by authors of prose works claiming that works in a new art form—silent movies—had infringed their copyrights. These cases laid the groundwork for much of modern copyright law, from their broad expansion of the reproduction right, to their puzzled grappling with the question how to compare works in dissimilar media, to their confusion over what sort of evidence should be relevant to show copyrightability, copying and infringement. Some of those cases—in particular, Nichols v. Universal Pictures—are canonical today. They are not, however, well-understood. In particular, the ...

Readers' Copyright, Jessica D. Litman Jan 2011

Readers' Copyright, Jessica D. Litman


My goal in this project is to reclaim copyright for readers (and listeners, viewers, and other members of the audience). I think, and will try to persuade you, that the gradual and relatively recent disappearance of readers’ interests from the core of copyright’s perceived goals has unbalanced the copyright system. It may have prompted, at least in part, the scholarly critique of copyright that has fueled copyright lawyers’ impression that “so many in academia side with the pirates.” It may also be responsible for much of the deterioration in public support for copyright. I argue here that copyright seems ...

Creative Reading, Jessica D. Litman Jan 2007

Creative Reading, Jessica D. Litman


Let me begin with something that Jamie Boyle wrote ten years ago in Intellectual Property Policy Online: A Young Person's Guide:' Copyright marks the attempt to achieve for texts and other works a balance in which the assumption of the system is that widespread use is possible without copying. The relative bundles of rights of the user and the owner achieve their balance based on a set of economic and technical assumptions about the meaning of normal use. For our purposes, I would like to generalize this as something that Boyle might have written if he had not in ...

The Public Domain, Jessica D. Litman Jan 1990

The Public Domain, Jessica D. Litman


This article examines the public domain by looking at the gulf between what authors really do and the way the law perceives them. Part I outlines the basics of copyright as a species of property and introduces the public domain's place within the copyright scheme. Copyright grants authors" ' rights modeled on real property in order to encourage authorship by providing authors with markets in which they can seek compensation for their creations. Because parcels of authorship are intangible, however, the law faces *problems in determining the ownership and boundaries of its property grants. In particular, the concept of "originality ...