A “Largely Ignored Paradox”
The United States Supreme Court has famously labeled copyright “the engine of free expression.” Copyright, indeed, both spurs creative production and underwrites a community of authors and publishers who are not beholden to government officials for financial support. But copyright has strayed from its traditional, speech‐enhancing core, so much so that copyright now imposes an unacceptable burden on the values that underlie First Amendment guarantees of free speech. Copyright has come increasingly to resemble and be thought of as a full‐fledged property right rather than a limited federal grant designed to further a particular public purpose. The copyright‐free speech conflict cuts across traditional and digital media alike. Yet digital technology adds a vast new dimension, pitting entertainment media bent on stamping out massive “digital piracy” against individuals who increasingly perceive copyright as an undue and unworthy impingement on their liberty and expressive autonomy.
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