Journal Article

Digital technology: its impact on copyright law and practice in North America

Ronald E. Dimock and Sangeetha Punniyamoorthy

in Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice

Volume 1, issue 13, pages 839-849
Published in print December 2006 | ISSN: 1747-1532
Published online November 2006 | e-ISSN: 1747-1540 | DOI:
Digital technology: its impact on copyright law and practice in North America

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  • Arbitration
  • Intellectual Property Law


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Legal context. The effect of rapid technological change on copyright law in Canada and the United States, and in particular on the balance between creators' rights and users' rights.

Key points. Copyright law involves a balance between the rights of both creators and users. When initially faced with fast-evolving digital technology, the courts struggled with the balancing act and tipped it in favour of users' rights. The Supreme Court of Canada elevated various exceptions to infringement to user rights, and cautioned against a low standard of originality which would favour creators' rights. The US Court of Appeals remarked that introduction of new technology is disruptive to copyright owners whose works are sold through traditional mechanisms; and others suggested that a bias in favour of owners rights may have well impeded the development of digital culture. Despite the initial struggles, legislative changes, market forces and recent deference by the courts to the balancing of various interests, have slowly restored the copyright balance, even when faced with rapid technological change.

Practical significance. Copyright litigants must give careful consideration to the balance between creators' and users' rights, and be prepared to justify traditional copyright protection in fields of new technology.

Journal Article.  7660 words. 

Subjects: Arbitration ; Intellectual Property Law

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