Legal Protection of Technological Measures Protecting Works of Authorship: International Obligations and the US

Intellectual Property and Copyright and Trademark

Article Snapshot


Jane Ginsburg


Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 05-93, 2005


This article analyses U.S. and E.U. laws protecting copyrighted words from digital duplication.

Policy Relevance

Insuring proper protections for digital reproduction of copyrighted works can encourage creation and innovation, but should be balanced against freedom to access information in the digital world.

Main Points

  • The European Union’s Information Society Directive requires that member States create laws against the digital copying of copyrighted works.  The implementation of these laws can benefit from an analysis of the U.S. system.
  • The ease of copying digital files has created the need for stronger laws preventing the illegal duplication of copyrighted works. In the U.S., this protection comes from Section 1201 of the 1976 Copyright Act.
  • Section 1201 increases protection for copyright owners, and has provided benefits to consumers by encouraging the development of new models for developing recordings, motion pictures, books, and other copyrighted works.
  • Yet, section 1201 continues to receive criticism despite the fact that it has largely fulfilled the goals set out by congress when it was enacted: to protect copyrights while not unreasonably restricting access to the information.
  • At present, we should allow the new business models established by Section 1201 time to develop, rather than unnecessarily overhauling the copyright protection system.
  • Following the U.S. example, the European Union needs to implement laws that balance the need for protection against the benefits of access.

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