In much of the literature about the Internet and digital communications, there is the presumption that a natural association exists between the Internet and democracy. By access to the Internet and its information flows, new possibilities arise. New forms of identity, self-discovery, collective discussion, and engagement become possible; the communications medium facilitates exchanges of ideas and information that influence all other areas of life. But if we move beyond the rhetoric of the Internet’s potential for empowerment, is it possible to analyse the Internet itself in terms of its democratic credentials? More specifically, what are the sites of activity where others determine the potentialities, political and otherwise, of ordinary citizens? If the volume of pages in books and law journals is any guide, intellectual property law (IP), and copyright in particular, is the major site for governance of citizens and the Internet.
This commentary explores the notion of copyright law as the new constitutional law of cyberspace. The case for a public-minded copyright law is explored historically and in realpolitik terms, but the conclusion is that the chance for copyright playing a constructive formal regulatory role across the globe is exceedingly weak.
Date of this Version
Kathy Bowrey, "Can A Public-Minded Copyright Deliver A More Democratic Internet? " (August 2007). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series. Working Paper 59.