St. Mary's Law Journal


This Article discusses the objectives of American copyright law, its development and its current day codification. The inception of digital audio recording technology (“DAT”) raises new challenges for American copyright law. American copyright is a constitutionally sanctioned and legislatively accorded form of protection for authors against the unauthorized copyright of their “original works of authorship.” A significant copyright issue is the ability of DAT to reproduce nearly perfect copies of copyrighted musical works. This Article further discusses certain aspects of copyright law, such as the fair use defense and the concept of “home” for the purposes of copyright protection. The Article also addresses possible conflicts which may arise with the marketing and use of DAT products within the context of existing copyright law. Finally, this article discusses pending DAT litigation.

New technologies such as compact discs and DAT provide challenges for American copyright law. DAT raises several copyright issues because it is capable of producing nearly perfect copies of copyrighted works. Thus, the question arises as to whether DAT use is considered a fair use or whether it constitutes an infringement. Application of the existing copyright law to DAT recording poses certain concerns. DAT recording may not fall within the fair use exception of copyright law. Therefore, issues of infringement may arise with the sale and use of DAT. Congress, however, has power to either create a statutory exception for DAT recording in the home or expand the fair use doctrine to accommodate DAT technology. Furthermore, as illustrated by the wide sale of VCR and the success of rental movies, manufacturers and copyright owners can both profit from the development and distribution of this new technology.


St. Mary's University School of Law