Preliminary Thoughts on Copyright Reform
Author(s): Pamela Samuelson
Abstract: The Copyright Act of 1976 is far too long, complex, and largely incomprehensible to non-copyright professionals. It is also the work product of pre-computer technology era. This law also lacks normative heft. That is, it does not embody a clear vision about what its normative purposes are.
This article offers the author’s preliminary thoughts about why copyright reform is needed, why it will be difficult to undertake, and why notwithstanding these difficulties, it may nonetheless be worth doing. It offers suggestions about how one might go about trimming the statute to a more managemable length, articulating more simply its core normative purposes, and spinning certain situation-specific provisions off into a rulemaking process.
Thirty years after enactment of the ’76 Act, with the benefit of considerable experience with computer and other advanced technologies and the rise of amateur creators, it may finally be possible to think through in a more comprehensive way how to adapt copyright to digital networked environments as well as how to maintain its integrity as to existing industry products and services that do not exist outside of the digital realm.
Keywords: copyright, reform, computer technology, digital networks