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Reforming Information Law in Copyright's Image

Reforming Information Law in Copyright's Image

Litman, Jessica, "Reforming Information Law in Copyright's Image".

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Abstract

    The First Amendment has always provided a completely different standard with regard to liability for actions that constitute speech as compared to actions that constitute copyright infringement. They're really just apples and oranges. And I think it would disserve both areas of law -- I know there's been some discussion, some people have attempted to link these two areas of law recently, and I think it does a disservice to both areas of law, even though the same technologies may be involved. And I think it really does a disservice both to the law of the First Amendment and the law of copyright to attempt really to try to analogize from one to the other.

Facts on copyright

  • The author of an unpublished manuscript or little-known publication, which is remarkably similar to a popular novel, will have an uphill battle convincing a court that the popular novel infringes the copyright in their obscure work. Taking some precautionary steps may help to establish independent creation and authorship. For example, when a web designer designs a webpage (based upon his own work) under a contract for services, the webmaster owns the copyright in at least the underlying code of that website.
  • The American exclusive rights tradition is inconsistent with the notion of moral rights as it was constituted in the Civil Code tradition stemming from France's revolution. In the United States, exclusive rights are statutory and granted by Congress. The first major copyright case in the United States, Wheaton v. Peters, established that copyright was not a natural right or a common law right. Although the case was later nullified when the Supreme Court declared it null and void, it soon became a symbol for the morality of copyright. When the United States signed the Berne Convention, they stipulated that the Convention's "moral rights" provisions were addressed sufficiently by other statutes, such as laws covering libel and slander. In most of Europe it is not possible for authors to assign their moral rights (unlike the copyright itself, which is regarded as an item of property which can be sold, licensed, lent, mortgaged or given like any other property).
  • Different countries impose different tests, although generally the requirements are low. In the United Kingdom there has to be some 'skill, originality and work' which has gone into it. However, even fairly trivial amounts of these qualities are sufficient for determining whether a particular act of copying constitutes an infringement of the author's original expression.

This site is growing and will contain information like crown copyright, copyright registration and copyright forms.