FAIR USE AND THE DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION OF MUSIC - RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA v. NAPSTER, INC. (A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF A RESTRAINT ON COPYRIGHT IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO)
The purpose of this thesis is to undertake a critical analysis of the Napster judgment and its treatment of the doctrine of fair use, to determine whether the doctrine can retain its integrity in the internet age. It is proposed that as technology advances, U.S. policymakers are moving away from the constitutional objectives of U.S. copyright law and are equating copyright interests with property rights, to the detriment of noncommercial users of copyrighted works. Further, it is suggested that the decision in the Napster litigation is important for the evolving landscape of U.S. copyright law, as it signals the difficulty in establishing a fair use of a copyrighted work when such use is not authorized by the copyright owner. While the focus of this thesis is an analysis of U.S. copyright law, a brief review of copyright law in Trinidad and Tobago is undertaken for comparative purposes. In Trinidad and Tobago, the impact of new digital technologies has not been as dramatic for the recording industry and industry participants as it has been in the U.S., primarily because the internet is not widely utilized as a distribution outlet for that country's music. Unlike the U.S. position, the fair use doctrine does not exist in the copyright law of Trinidad and Tobago. However, there are recognized limitations on the exclusive rights of the copyright holder, one of which is the permitted, unauthorized use of a copyrighted work for "personal purposes". This Thesis will also seek to examine whether this limitation on copyright in the Trinidad and Tobago legislation is relevant in the online world of digital music downloading. Chapter I of this thesis is divided into two sections. The first section will suggest a few of the economic factors which may have influenced the Napster litigation. This section will highlight the dollar value of the music industry, the major beneficiaries of the economic gains to be made from the industry, and the financial interests at stake. The second section will identify recent improvements made in digital technology and the impact such improvements have had on vested economic interests. Chapter II will describe the statutory framework on which copyright holders rely, while Chapter III will focus on the District Court and Ninth Circuit decisions in the Napster litigation, and their treatment of the fair use doctrine. As part of this analysis, select the Supreme Court and other judicial decisions will be examined to see whether the treatment of the fair use doctrine in the Napster litigation was consistent with established authorities. In the Trinidad and Tobago context, the concept of "personal purposes" will be discussed and relevant English judicial decisions interpreting the concept will be highlighted. Chapter IV will consider the future of the fair use doctrine and the treatment of the concept in legislation specifically drafted as a response to the internet age. It is to be emphasized that this Thesis is not intended to provide an in-depth exposition of copyright law or its limitations, in either the U.S. or Trinidad and Tobago. Instead, it is intended that this work will provide a provocative analysis of a judicial decision that is significant for its influence far beyond the limits of music distribution, as it touches upon the manner in which all types of information will be transmitted and received over the internet.
ALEXANDER, MICHELLE LISA, "FAIR USE AND THE DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION OF MUSIC - RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA v. NAPSTER, INC. (A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF A RESTRAINT ON COPYRIGHT IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO)" (2001). LLM Theses and Essays. 261.