Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Make Way for Copyright Chaos" by Lawrence Lessig

In an Op-Ed piece in today's New York Times Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford, considers the probable complexity and costliness introduced into copyright law by the Supreme Court's expansion of the Copyright Act in the Grokster case 20 months ago.
These cases together signaled a very strong and sensible policy: The complex balance of interests within any copyright statute are best struck by Congress.

But 20 months ago, the Supreme Court reversed this wise policy of deference. Drawing upon common law-like power, the court expanded the Copyright Act in the Grokster case to cover a form of liability it had never before recognized in the context of copyright — the wrong of providing technology that induces copyright infringement. It announced this new form of liability even though at precisely the same time Congress was holding hearings about whether to amend the Copyright Act to create the same liability.

The Grokster case thus sent a clear message to lawyers everywhere: You get two bites at the copyright policy-making apple, one in Congress and one in the courts. But in Congress, you need hundreds of votes. In the courts, you need just five.
CLICK HERE for the full article.

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