3. Enforcement costs and benefits

Copyright enforcement mechanisms include civil penalties, criminal sanctions, technical requirements, and intermediary obligations. What are the costs and benefits of these and alternative mechanisms? How well do they address new challenges in the digital age, including those posed by unauthorized access to copyrighted works emanating from non-U.S. jurisdictions that lack effective enforcement mechanisms?

4. Exceptions, limitations, and balanced copyright design

Copyright law attempts to balance competing interests of creators and downstream users of copyrighted works through a variety of mechanisms—term limits after which works enter the public domain, enumerated exceptions to address specific policy objectives, general exceptions such as fair use, and compulsory licensing provisions. What is the role and effectiveness of these measures in different copyright domains and what impact do they have on creativity?

The following sections expand on these research topics along with some suggestions of research approaches appropriate for exploring them.


As explained above, the leading justification for copyright in the United States has always been to motivate and disseminate creative expression for the public benefit by providing creators and/or their agents with a degree of market power they would not otherwise enjoy. Although this market power can translate into supra-competitive prices for consumers of copyrighted works and into constraints on those who use them as the basis for subsequent creativity, copyright strives to limit these costs to those necessary to generate and disseminate the works upon which subsequent creativity depends. This conventional theory of copyright has been explored in generations of copyright scholarship. But empirical research documenting the actual impact of copyright on incentives of creators, distributors, and consumers is quite limited and thus a key direction for future investigation.

Creator Incentives

The digital age appears to have profoundly affected creator incentives in at least two ways. First, advances in technologies for producing and disseminating expressive works have reduced the barriers to entry and the costs of creation and distribution for some categories of works. On the other hand, the ease with which works can be distributed over the Inter

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement