Citation Edit

8910 T

Office of Technology Assessment, Copyright and Home Copying: Technology Challenges the Law (OTA-CIT-422) (Oct. 1989) (full-text).

Overview Edit

This report examined noncommercial, private use of copyrighted works and the implications of digital media and recording technologies, particularly for home audio recording. That report found that intellectual property laws serve to define the boundaries between permissible and prohibited uses of works; technology, driven by the social and economic objectives of its users, defines the frontiers of possible uses and feasible enforcement of boundaries.

The report found that technological changes and trends that substantially alter the nature and extent of possible uses, or the feasibility of enforcing prohibitions against certain uses, give rise to tensions between users and proprietors and may make modification or clarification of the law desirable. The technology trends identified in the report were:

  1. the movement to digital representations of music, video, and other types of entertainment and information available to consumers;
  2. the erosion of niche boundaries used to categorize copyrightable works according to their content (e.g., audio, video, computer software) or physical format (e.g., audiotape, videotape, computer disc);
  3. the emergence of new delivery infrastructures to deliver information and entertainment (e.g., fiber optic cable, interactive cable services); and
  4. the efforts of some copyright proprietors (e.g., in sound recordings and motion pictures) to develop and implement technical means for copy protection.

In some cases, OTA found, new technologies (e.g., copy protection) may have the effect of a de facto change in the law.

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