Copyright in a digital ecosystem: A user rights approach

Niva Elkin-Koren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The rights of users of copyrighted materials are growing in signifi cance. This is the result of fundamental changes in the creative ecosystem that pull in opposite directions: on the one hand, the fl ourishing of user-generated content places individual users at the forefront of creative processes, strengthening the need to facilitate unlicensed use of creative materials. On the other hand, digital distribution, cloud computing, and mobile Internet strengthen restrictions on the freedom of users to access, experience, transform, and share creative materials. These changes necessitate a user-rights approach to copyright law. Users' interests are often examined through the prism of Limitations and Exceptions (L&E) to copyright. However, this narrow view overlooks the users' critical role in serving the goals of copyright law and may therefore ultimately lead to ineffi cient outcomes. A user-rights approach holds that permissible uses under copyright law should be articulated and treated as rights. It deviates from the L&E approach at the theoretical level, with some potential doctrinal implications. At the theoretical level, this approach shifts the locus of copyright analysis from author's rights to the creative process, emphasizing the role of users as partners in promoting copyright objectives. Rather than being "parasites" that benefi t - unjustly - from limits on the just rewards of authors, users actively participate in promoting the creation, dissemination, and use of cultural works. A user-rights approach further suggests that to achieve its goals, copyright law should be drafted, interpreted, and applied in ways that consider the rights and duties of both users and authors. Permissible uses that serve the objectives of copyright law should therefore be defi ned as rights rather than as a legal defense.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCopyright Law in an Age of Limitations and Exceptions
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9781316450901
ISBN (Print)9781107132375
StatePublished - 30 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2017. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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