7 Wake Forest Intell. Prop. L.J. 173
One of the most challenging aspects of modern copyright law is striking a balance between the time-honored fair usage rights of commentators and the every day consumer while safeguarding protected expression from illicit pirating. The focus of this article is restricted to a succinct examination of movies fixed onto DVDs and the tensions between protecting such works of authorship via legal and technological measures, namely the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Digital Rights Management technologies, while concurrently protecting consumer and other end-user rights, namely fair use.
This article posits that the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, although firmly rooted in U.S. legal jurisprudence, has been overtaken by the threat of digital piracy. Likewise, while it is acknowledged that piracy of movies fixed onto DVDs is a serious and growing epidemic, due to the explosion of digital technologies and the Internet, the article posits that the measures currently in place to combat such piracy are too widely sweeping and that a more tailored approach is warranted. By examining the built-in safeguards of free speech, namely the Fair Use Doctrine and the Idea/Expression Dichotomy, the author elucidates how the traditional balancing of an author’s right to protected expression and the public’s right to access non-copyrightable elements has swayed too far in favor of protection of those elements.