Elgar Law, Technology and Society series
Edited by Jessica C. Lai and Antoinette Maget Dominicé
Chapter 3: The copy in copyright
Since its inception, copyright law has been developed around the concept of “copy”. Although copyright began mostly as a right vested in copies, and therefore a right to prevent others from multiplying copies, the emphasis has now been dramatically shifted to the act of copying itself. The terms “copy” and “copies” have also been slowly re-conceptualised to respond to changing technology and to expand the scope of copyright protection. The first half of this chapter takes a historical perspective. It recounts the use of the concept of “copy” by the Stationers’ Company and in the Statute of Anne. It also addresses two different sets of challenges to this foundational concept: (1) the US Supreme Court case of White-Smith Music Publishing Co v Apollo Co and (2) the efforts in the mid-1990s to update the concept to meet the needs of the digital environment. The second half of this chapter is forward-looking. It examines four areas in which digital technology has posed major challenges to the concept of “copy”: reproduction, distribution, public performance and making available. The chapter concludes with six observations concerning the future development of copyright law in the digital environment.
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