Essay by firehawk899College, Undergraduate March 2004

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Copyrights are designed to provide some form of protection against unauthorized use of original informational materials. The rapid shift of information production and distribution to electronic form, with its corresponding ease of copying, naturally makes copyright-dependent industries nervous. Much talk in the news and on the net these days is about the future of copyright law, a law developed in an age of print and now perhaps too tied to that medium to have ready application to today's information technology.

The fate of copyright may seem in doubt to some, but copyright has a long durable history. It has survived countless technological changes over nearly two centuries, including the advent of photography, the phonograph, player pianos, motion pictures, audiotapes and cassettes, and computer programs-and it's still going strong. From this historical perspective, then, one might paraphrase Mark Twain by concluding that reports of copyright's death are greatly exaggerated.

Neither to expect that copyright will survive the new information technologies is not to expect that it will be unchanged, nor that those industries publishing, music, computer software, etc.

that depend on copyright law will remain unchanged. To the contrary, pressure for change will build on both industry practice and copyright doctrine to sharply intersect in several areas. One significant area is that of copyright preemption of state contract law. For a combination of reasons, we can expect to se considerable emphasis in litigation on the preemption doctrine in the future.

Copyright owners have a variety of rights under the copyright act, including the rights of reproduction, and the rights of public distribution, performance, and display. For convenience, let the term "copying" serve as a surrogate for all of these various rights.

Copyright owners need a certain amount of protection against copying in order to make a profit at a given level...