My first objective in this article is to explore the gulf between copyright rhetoric and copyright reality. After examining copyright rhetoric, the article demonstrates how neither the need to generate creative activity nor the desire to reward deserving authors provides a plausible justification for current copyright doctrine.

Why, then, does copyright doctrine continue to expand? The concluding section suggests some answers. Interest-group politics provides an obvious answer and one well-substantiated by the history of copyright legislation. But the story does not end with interest-group politics. Instead, I suggest that the nation's elite, including its lawmakers, has a stake in believing and acting on copyright rhetoric. The elite's investment in the status quo reinforces the power of the interest groups who have fueled copyright expansion.