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Traditional copyright law strikes a balance between an author's control of original material and society's interest in the free flow of ideas, information, and commerce. In today's digitally networked environment, this balance has shifted dramatically to one side, as powerful rights holders contractually impose terms and conditions of use far beyond the bounds set by copyright law.
This book explores this conflict, focusing on statutory copyright limitations that enshrine constitutional rights such as freedom of expression and privacy, foster dissemination of knowledge, safeguard competition, and protect authors from market failure. It explains the rationale for these limitations and questions the legality of overriding them by contractual means.
The author finds a complex array of factors clouding the emergence of coherent rules in the matter and points out that the United States' Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) leaves this issue essentially unresolved. Among the author's insights is that, contrary to the commonly held notion that the Internet is a bastion of free speech, in fact it is now possible (via encryption technology) to exercise absolute control over copyrighted material, even under circumstances of global mass distribution.