Copyright Noncompliance (or Why We Can't 'Just Say Yes' to Licensing)

Jessica D. Litman, University of Michigan Law School


Suddenly, we are paying a lot of attention to the claim that individual end users do not observe copyright rules in their daily behavior. The phenomenon is not new. It has captured so much recent attention because networked digital communications threaten and promise to revolutionize the way people interact with information and works of authorship in ·ways that make the behavior of individual end users far more crucial than it has been in the pasL Our copyright laws have, until now, focused primarily on the relationships among those who write works of authorship and disseminate those works to the public. The threat and promise of networked digital technology is that every individual with access to a computer will be able to perform the 21st century equivalent of printing, reprinting, publishing, and vending. If the vast majority of them do not comply with the copyright law, then the copyright law is in danger of becoming irrelevant.