Copyright law; infringement; fair use


The primary goal of copyright law is to benefit the public. By rewarding authors with exclusive rights, such as the power to enforce copyright infringement, copyright protection is the means through which copyright law accomplishes this goal. Another way that copyright law pursues its goal is through the fair use doctrine—an invaluable utilitarian limit on copyright protection. However, fair use is, among other things, vague. The current application of fair use as an affirmative defense magnifies the doctrine’s problems and makes copyright law hospitable to abusive copyright litigation. Current proposals in this area of reform target either fair use or abusive copyright litigation. This Note targets both problems with a single solution: applying fair use as a right. Applying fair use as a right alleviates some of the doctrine’s inherent problems and is the best long-term solution for eliminating abusive litigation from copyright law. As a right, fair use protects copyright’s core values and goals, alleviates the burden on courts, and cultivates creation. A review of the motivation behind fair use reveals that as a right, fair use is best able to serve the purpose for which it was designed.