Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


Hegel, copyright law, Napster, mp3


This article will examine these responses, identifying the competing interests at work in both traditional copyright schemes and contemporary Internet-based criticisms, and put forth a theory of copyright law capable of ad- dressing the needs of these rival interests in an advanced technological era.

Part I delineates some of the more prominent theories copyright scholars have offered in response to the “IP-IT crisis.” Part II attempts to identify the source of these problems by first examining conventional justifications for copyright and the competing interests inherently at work in its conception. Part III identifies three specific factors I argue are particularly problematic (both in terms of cause and consequence) to the current state of the Internet and copyright theory. These are: (i) the emergence of a corporate intermediary; (ii) the “death” of the author; and (iii) a non-consideration of the copier. I examine each of these factors, suggesting their problematic aspects are the result of an over-emphasis on instrumentalist values in copyright theory. Part IV incorporates the work of Margaret Jane Radin on property as personhood and G.W.F. Hegel’s theory of abstract right in order to address these three areas of concern and propose a “revised” theory of copyright law based on the rights of the would-be-copier. Some concluding remarks on the implementation of the theory are explored in Part V.