Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law


J. D. Lipton

First Page



Today's copyright law derives from the needs of the publishing industry in centuries past. The digital world creates even more significant concerns for authors and publishers than those that arose with the advent of the printing press. Digital technology enables easy, fast, and inexpensive global copying and distribution of digital texts. Other digitized industries--such as the music, movie, and video-game industries--have faced these challenges with a higher apparent success rate, at least in the courts, than the publishing industry. This Article considers why publishing has been less successful in protecting its online copyrights and examines the extent to which copyright law might work more effectively within the industry. Drawing on evidence of emerging norms in the self-publishing community, the Author suggests that the answers for e-publishing may lie outside formal legal regulation; rather, the answers reside in market-based solutions, social norms, and grassroots antipiracy campaigns, augmented by currently available digital technologies such as encryption and plagiarism-detection software.