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Intellectual Property (IP): Purpose of Copyright

DISCLAIMER: Material provided is only intended as a guide. This guide is not a substitute for professional legal advice.

Purpose of Copyright

The “Copyright Clause”) states that “Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

The promotion of “science,” as that term is used in the Copyright Clause, is understood to refer to the purpose of copyright law (despite the contemporary usage of the term). See Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186, 197 (2003). The Supreme Court has confirmed that this clause empowers Congress to enact a copyright system. See Golan v. Holder, 565 U.S. 302, 323-25 (2012).

U.S. courts have analyzed the purpose of the Copyright Clause in a number of cases. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Copyright Clause to mean that copyright laws should promote both the creation and dissemination of creative works. See, e.g., Golan, 132 S. Ct. at 888-89.

Thus, “[t]he Framers intended copyright itself to be the engine of free expression.” Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises et al., 471 U.S. 539, 558 (1985); see also Golan, 132 S. Ct. at compendium: U.S. Copyright Office and the Copyright Law Chapter 100 revised 09/29/2017 | 10 890 (“By establishing a marketable right to the use of one’s expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas.”).

The Cost of Copyright Rights Extension

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