Compulsory Licensing v. Private Negotiations in Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

  • Michael Botein
  • Edward Samuels

Peer-to-Peer sharing of creative works over the Internet poses a particularly thorny issue for copyright law. On the one hand, full copyright liability may seem inappropriate in such an environment, since it might inhibit the broad dissemination of creative works promised by the new technology. On the other hand, carte blanche immunity from copyright liability might erode the commercial value of creative works.

In an effort to chart a course between the two unsatisfactory extremes, some commentators have recently proposed a compulsory license to authorize and regulate the Peer-to-Peer distribution of copyrighted works, primarily over the Internet.2 We are sympathetic with the goals of such a compromise, and believe that the issues need to be fully aired. Nevertheless, we remain skeptical about the feasibility of implementing such a system. To this end, we think it worthwhile to take a brief look at the history of compulsory copyright licenses in a number of different settings. As will be seen, compulsory licenses have been less than successful in implementing public policy goals.


Supra Note Compulsory License Cable System Copyright Owner Berne Convention 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Botein
    • 1
  • Edward Samuels
    • 2
  1. 1.New York Law SchoolUSA
  2. 2.Intellectual Property ConsultantUSA

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