The unsustainability of copyright


Humans are creators. In order to ensure that as many creative works as possible are available to society at large, a compensation mechanism for creators was instituted in law: copyright. Copyright was intended as a careful balance between the rights of the public, and the desire for compensation of creative authors. It gives authors a temporary monopoly on certain uses of their creative works. Unfortunately, 300 years of copyright evolution have brought us to the point where the law is severely out of touch with reality, and the balance has been lost. New copyright legislation is being introduced in response to the advance of technology, making the gap between reality and the law even bigger. This situation is unsustainable and, as such, an opportunity for constructive reform.

This thesis looks in detail at the current state of copyright, and how it is evolving. It then goes into why copyright law as it stands today is unsustainable. Finally two future scenarios are investigated. One assumes no fundamental policy change. The other looks at the reinstitution of copyright registration.


The unsustainability of copyright (PDF)
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Ward Vandewege (ward at


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