Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Web 2.0 technologies, characterized by user-generated content, raise new challenges for copyright law. Online interactions involving reproductions of copyrighted works in blogs, online fan fiction, and online social networks do not comfortably fit existing copyright paradigms. It is unclear whether participants in Web 2.0 forums are creating derivative works, making legitimate fair uses of copyright works, or engaging in acts of digital copyright piracy and plagiarism. As online conduct becomes more interactive, copyright laws are less effective in creating clear signals about proscribed conduct. This article examines the application of copyright law to Web 2.0 technologies. It suggests that social norms must take on greater significance because of the community-oriented nature of much of today’s online conduct. Social norms are significant both as a form of social regulation and because they can guide law and policy makers about appropriate new directions for copyright law reform. This article focuses on four case studies involving the popular Twilight book and movie franchise. These case studies illuminate the relationship between copyright norms and laws in the Web 2.0 context. The author draws lessons from the case studies that might inform future developments in copyright law and policy that would better align laws with expectations of Web 2.0 participants. Twilight is chosen as the focal point because of the complex online relationships that have developed in recent years between the various copyright stakeholders: the book author; movie directors; producers and distributors of the books and movies; actors and production crews; and, the fans.