Future of Copyright

Authored by: Michelle Bogre , Nancy Wolff

The Routledge Companion to Copyright and Creativity in the 21st Century

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138999251
eBook ISBN: 9781315658445
Adobe ISBN:


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Several themes emerge when looking at the future of copyright in the twenty-first century. The role of fair use, written to encourage creation while still allowing the public some access to creative works (knowledge), stands out as a dominant feature of US copyright law. It has stood the test of time, remaining flexible in a changing world, but, when taken to the extreme, it has still affected the market for licensing revenue. What role will Internet Service Providers (ISPs) play in the future to ensure that the economic incentives provided to authors under copyright remain viable and are not swallowed up by unfettered infringements by internet users? Will there be new collective licensing models to compensate creators, such as book authors, for some of the online sharing or piracy that has become commonplace online? Will the termination provision provide authors with a real opportunity to renegotiate past grants of rights, or will the process be too complex for creators to navigate? Will the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s safe harbor provision (§ 512(c))—​to protect ISPs from damages for infringing work posted by users—​be reviewed so the burden does not fall so heavily on creators, given the growth of the internet industry? Will a simplified and less costly copyright small claims tribunal finally be created by Congress and provide creators and small businesses with a venue for the low-value, high-volume infringements that plague many individual creators and vex publishers? If such a venue exists, how will that increase or decrease some of the current copyright litigation shops that bring a high volume of infringement claims in federal court? How will the Copyright Act address ownership and copyright protection for works created with the use of machines or drones, or through the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI)? How will the role of the Copyright Office in the twenty-first century change to address these issues? These are some of the questions addressed in the preceding chapters, representing varied points of view of copyright lawyers and creators from different fields.

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