Narratives of Copyright Enforcement: The Upward Ratchet and the Sleeping Giant
Revue française d’études américaines N° 134, 2012(4), 64-80
This essay briefly retraces two dimensions of copyright enforcement. The first concerns recent legislative efforts, ACTA, PIPA and SOPA. The second dimension addresses the academic interpretation of the dynamics of copyright enforcement. In order to understand both the objectives of ACTA, PIPA and SOPA and the thrust of their analysis, it is helpful to start with TRIPS, the original legislative framework on international copyright enforcement. For each treaty or legislative act, I will outline the intended provisions and the policy process followed by the salient lines of academic interpretation. With regard to the latter, I hope to demonstrate that the defeat of ACTA, PIPA and SOPA suggests reconsidering basic assumptions inherent in academic narratives of copyright enforcement. A more symmetric approach to the analysis of copyright regulation able to explaining both failures and successes of legislation is required. The article concludes with a few suggestions concerning such an approach.