Copyright, Moral Rights and the First Amendment: The Problem of Integrity and Compulsory Speech

Leonard, Claire

The primary aim of copyright law is to promote the creation and dissemination of knowledge by protecting the economic rights of authors. Economic rights, though valuable; do not encompass the free speech rights that can be threatened by the tension between copyright and the First Amendment. Conflicts between copyright law and the First Amendment are sometimes characterized as pitting the economic rights of authors against the free speech rights of those who wish to use their copyrighted works. The so-called fair use doctrine and the idea/expression dichotomy—two exceptions to copyright law's categorical prohibition on copying—are often touted as sufficient to accommodate the First Amendment problems raised by copyright law. However, in copyright cases in which an author's message is distorted in ways she disavows, these two exceptions are inadequate to protect original authors' free speech rights, which may be in jeopardy.


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Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts

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July 3, 2012