A Theory of Ethical Copyright


Haochen Sun

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Closed Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.)


Duke University School of Law


Copyright, Fair use


This dissertation puts forth a theory of ethical copyright. It considers the possibility of creating two new ethical functions of copyright law. These new functions would empower copyright law to protect the user’s collective right to make fair use of copyrighted materials and enforce the copyright holder’s responsibilities. Both proposals not only evince the cardinal importance of the public interest, but also open up new avenues of protecting and enhancing the public interest.

Chapter One of the dissertation examines the ethical crisis looming large in copyright law and practice. Chapter Two considers the first new ethical function of copyright law by proposing that fair use should be redefined as a collective user right. Chapter Three discusses the second new ethical function of copyright law that will require the law to enforce copyright holders’ responsibilities. Chapter Four further explores how the ethical copyright theory can further promote the protection of the public interest, by embodying pluralistic values in copyright law and offering new approaches for dealing with the conflict of values in copyright law.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Copyright Fair use