Copyright Law and the Progress of Science and the Useful Arts
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Copyright Law and the Progress of Science and the Useful Arts

Alina Ng

The American Constitution empowers Congress to enact copyright laws to ‘promote the progress of science and the useful arts’. This book offers the first in-depth analysis of the connection between copyright law as a legal institution and the constitutional goal of promoting social and cultural advancement.
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Chapter 2: Cultural and Social Development

Alina Ng


If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. John F. Kennedy In general terms, the progress of science and the arts can be taken to mean the advancement of culture and society. The legal rules of the copyright system have been designed to encourage the production and distribution of literary and artistic works so that they may provide individuals and communities with opportunities to learn, grow, and develop. Cultural advancement, which may be taken to mean a deeper appreciation of human expression or the customs and practices of a community or society, also moves forward as the possibilities for authentic expression increase through open channels of communication and collaboration. Social and cultural advancement, however, depends on the opening up of a space of freedom in which thinkers and artists can experiment and build upon the work of others – a space that currently seems wanting in the legal institution explicitly created to further such progress. Indeed, over the course of three hundred years since the first copyright law was passed, this space may have incrementally grown smaller and less accessible to individuals and communities on the periphery of global media powerhouses. To reverse the increasing restrictions that have developed in copyright law, this book argues, will require a normative code of conduct that will guide authors and copyright owners in the exercises of entitlements under the Copyright Act so as to limit private-sector influences on...

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