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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Conclusion: Where Do We Go From Here?

Alina Ng


In Mazer v. Stein, Justice Reed spoke about an ‘economic philosophy’ underlying the copyright system, one that provides authors with ‘rewards’ for ‘services rendered’ to society. This is a story that jurists and scholars of copyright law have told over and over again. The narrative that copyright is an economic incentive for society’s benefit has become an all-toofamiliar tune hummed nonchalantly as policies are shaped and laws made. When commercial profits become the Holy Grail that copyright owners pursue at the expense of their fellow human beings, a sure and steady path to ruination is set. Social and cultural advancement requires a firm commitment to avoid the easy stroll down that path because literary and artistic production – even if frequent and plentiful – is unlikely to lead society toward progress if the sole or even primary motivation for creativity is personal gain. Looking at the imbalance of power in every form of authentic expression in favour of the copyright owner, it is difficult not to argue that an economic philosophy for the copyright system may not yield the best results for progress in science and the useful arts because progress is, at its essence, a fundamentally cooperative human endeavour and not a competitive profit-driven activity. This book has attempted to show that the difficulties faced by the Anglo-American copyright system today are attributable to a lack of moral and ethical principles to guide the use and production of literary and artistic works. Suggesting that the copyright system is a sociopolitical arrangement...

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