Access, progress, and fairness : rethinking exclusivity in copyright

Suzor, Nicolas P. (2013) Access, progress, and fairness : rethinking exclusivity in copyright. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 15(2), pp. 297-342.

View at publisher (open access)


This article provides a detailed critique of the incentives-access binary in copyright discourse. Mainstream copyright theory generally accepts that copyright is a balance between providing incentives to authors to invest in the production of cultural works and enhancing the dissemination of those works to the public. This Article argues that dominant copyright theory obscures the possibility of developing a model of copyright that is able to support authors without necessarily limiting access to creative works. The abundance that the Internet allows suggests that increasing access to cultural works to enhance learning, sharing, and creative play should be a fundamental goal of copyright policy.

This Article examines models of supporting and coordinating cultural production without exclusivity, including crowdfunding, tips, levies, restitution, and service-based models. In their current forms, each of these models fails to provide a cohesive and convincing vision of the two main functions of copyright: instrumentally (how cultural production can be funded) and fairness (how authors can be adequately rewarded). This article provides three avenues for future research to investigate the viability of alternate copyright models: (1) a better theory of fairness in copyright rewards; (2) more empirical study of commons models of cultural production; and (3) a critical examination of the noneconomic harm limiting function that exclusivity in copyright provides.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

1,194 since deposited on 02 May 2012
44 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 50021
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: copyright, abundance, scarcity, business models, fairness
ISSN: 1942-678X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Intellectual Property Law (180115)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Nicolas Suzor
Deposited On: 02 May 2012 00:47
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2013 03:28

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page