48:4 Copyright on a Clean Slate

Eighth Annual Baker Botts Lecture


The Internet—both its bright and dark sides—poses challenges not previously faced by copyright law. Adding still more provisions to an already complex Copyright Act is not the best way to respond. Rather, Congress should simplify and reconstruct the Act around five principles: (1) Copyright law should promote copyright commerce; (2) Copyright law should extend exclusive rights into every corner where they have value, except where transaction costs of harm to fundamental values outweigh the value of market transfers; (3) Copyright law should promote, not discourage, innovation in reducing transaction costs; (4) Copyright should not extend exclusive rights where the resulting harm to fundamental values outweighs the value of market transfers; and (5) A copyright statute should promote fidelity to copyright law.