What’s wrong with copying? Roundtable on the foundations of copyright law

Friday 22 May 2015, 16:00-18:00 – Executive Business Centre, room EB 302

Abraham Drassinower (University of Toronto) presents and discusses his book What’s Wrong with Copying? (Harvard University Press, 2015)

DiscussantsJose Bellido, Maurizio Borghi, Martin Kretschmer and Luke McDonagh

Copyright law, as conventionally understood, serves the public interest by regulating the production and dissemination of works of authorship, though it recognizes that the requirements of the public interest are in tension. Incentives for creation must be provided, but protections granted authors must not prevent the fruits of creativity and knowledge from spreading. Copyright law, therefore, should balance the needs of creators and users—or so the theory goes.

Challenging this widely accepted view, What’s Wrong with Copying? disentangles copyright theory from its focus on the economic value of an authored work as a commodity or piece of property. In his analysis of copyright doctrine, Abraham Drassinower frames an author’s work as a communicative act and shows that copyright infringement is best understood as an unauthorized appropriation of another person’s speech. According to this interpretation, copyright doctrine does not guarantee an author’s absolute rights over a work but only such rights as are consistent with both the nature of the work as speech and with the structure of the dialogue in which it participates. The rights protecting works of authorship are confined to communicative uses of the work and to uses consistent with the communicative rights of others—for example, unauthorized reproduction of a work is lawful when responding to the work requires its reproduction.

What’s Wrong with Copying? offers a new way to interpret and criticize existing copyright law and to think about the relation between copyright and digital technology as well as broader juridical, social, and cultural concerns.

 The author

Abraham Drassinower is Chair in the Legal, Ethical and Cultural Implications of Technological Innovation at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

Venue and registration

The event will take place at the Executive Business Centre of Bournemouth University, close to Bournemouth train and bus station. Please check our website for map and directions.

Attendance is free and open, but space is limited. Please reserve your place by registering here:





For information, please contact Maurizio Borghi (mborghi [at] bournemouth [dot] ac [dot] uk)