For nearly three centuries since the enactment of the world’s first copyright statute, individuals have been free to travel the kingdom of copyright as countrymen, enjoying the delightful objects to be found there, in private and without any notice taken. Historically, neither copyright law nor copyright holders have interfered with individuals’ freedom to enjoy copyright works in private. This centuries-old relationship between copyright and privacy has changed dramatically in the recent past.
Copyright and privacy have increasingly come into conflict over the course of the past decade. This conflict has led to a diminishment of individuals’ privacy and autonomy in connection with their enjoyment of copyright works. Digital rights management (DRM) technologies that use surveillance and restrict individuals’ activities are a prime example of this conflict.
Failure to gain a richer understanding of the conflict and relationship between copyright and privacy may leave us with little or no room to travel our vibrant copyright kingdoms in private. Permitting privacy to be diminished in the name of copyright may also lead to the impoverishment of the very copyright kingdoms that we purport to be enriching in so doing.
This short ID Trail Mix briefly discusses why, quite apart from its intrinsic worth, authors’ intellectual privacy is and has historically been instrumental in furthering the goals of copyright. This ID Trail Mix raises the question of whether the rationale behind authorial privacy’s historical utility in promoting the goals of copyright can provide arguments in support of protecting individuals’ intellectual privacy in connection with their enjoyment of copyright works. The ultimate question posed here is what role individuals’ intellectual privacy could or should play in the copyright balance.