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The Metamorphosis of Contract into Expand

David Nimmer, Elliot Brown and Gary N. Frischling
California Law Review
Vol. 87, No. 1, Symposium: Intellectual Property and Contract Law for the Information Age: The Impact of Article 2B of the Uniform Commercial Code on the Future of Information and Commerce (Jan., 1999), pp. 17-77
DOI: 10.2307/3481003
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3481003
Page Count: 61
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The Metamorphosis of Contract into Expand
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Abstract

Article 2B of the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) provides model rules to govern transactions in the digital domain, such as the licensing of software and electronic contracting. By addressing fundamental contract issues in the burgeoning world of digital commerce, it provides a salutary update to extant provisions of the U.C.C. dealing with traditional goods sold in traditional modes of commerce. However, to the extent that Article 2B aspires to protect copyright owners from improper uses of copyrighted works, it solves a non-problem. Copyright owners already enjoy robust and adequate protections under the Copyright Act. Far more troubling than solving this non-problem, however, is the possibility that Article 2B will be used to upset copyright law's "delicate balance" between the rights of copyright owners and copyright users. This balance is disrupted when state law is permitted to enlarge the rights that copyright owners enjoy. Attempts to alter the "delicate balance" through contract should fail under the doctrine of preemption. Article 2B assumes a pose of neutrality on the extent to which copyright law preempts contractual encroachment, yet it facilitates emerging practices designed to alter the balance and place the burden of defending the proper bounds of copyright on copyright users. In this Article, the authors argue that if Article 2B is to be enacted, it must proscribe contracting practices that seek to extend copyright protection beyond its current scope.

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