Georgia K. Harper

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Sept. 17, 2010


“Congress Can … For Limited Times … To Promote [Knowledge]”

The U.S. Constitution enables Congress to create a monopoly that stands as the only exception to the general rule that monopolies are illegal. Our monopoly remains constitutional so long as it doesn’t last forever and it promotes the growth of knowledge. While it is theoretically possible to challenge its constitutionality, asking whether it lasts forever, or whether particular aspects of the Copyright Act do indeed promote the growth of knowledge, it has not proven fruitful to do so. Rather, it appears that a more effective way to challenge our copyright is simply to slap it silly in the marketplace and challenge it to a duel. That’s just what competition from other ways of promoting the growth of knowledge has done. And we’ve all got ring-side seats!

Georgia Harper is a lawyer turned librarian widely recognized as one of the leading scholars on U.S. copyright law and higher education. Her talk will offer thoughts on the degree to which copyright law (particularly copyright and the academy) has diverged from or remained true to Article 8 in the U.S. Constitution.

Georgia K. Harper is the Scholarly Communications Advisor for the University of Texas at Austin Libraries, where she focuses on issues of digital access. She was Senior Attorney and manager of the Intellectual Property Section of the Office of General Counsel for the University of Texas System until August 2006, and currently represents the Office of General Counsel as outside counsel for copyright.