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Copyright law

University of Michigan Law School

Journal

Legal Remedies

2012

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Copyright And The Vagueness Doctrine, Bradley E. Abruzzi Feb 2012

Copyright And The Vagueness Doctrine, Bradley E. Abruzzi

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The Constitution's void-for-vagueness doctrine is itself vaguely stated. The doctrine does little to describe at what point vague laws-other than those that are entirely standardless-become unconstitutionally vague. Rather than explore this territory, the Supreme Court has identified three collateral factors that affect its inclination to invalidate a law for vagueness: (1) whether the law burdens the exercise of constitutional rights, (2) whether the law is punitive in nature, and (3) whether the law overlays a defendant-protective scienter requirement. Measured against these factors, copyright law does not meet the vagueness doctrine's minimum requirement of fair notice to the public. Copyright, by …