Academic authors' perception on copyright protection

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Information Science and Technology


Milton Mueller


Academic authors, Copyright protection, Public domain

Subject Categories

Law | Library and Information Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study scrutinizes the copyright protection duration of the US from the perspective of academic authors. It provides empirical evidence regarding the factors that influence their preference for copyright protection term. An online survey method was used to elicit their responses. The respondents from various categories were selected using a stratified random sampling method. It was discovered that academic authors are not motivated by monetary rewards; in lieu and to a certain extent, they were found to be motivated more by esteem, intrinsic and job related factors when creating their works. Only few of them use public domain materials, and most of them do not face especially taxing problems using materials that are still under copyright protection. It was also revealed that academic authors who are motivated by monetary reward when writing/creating their works do not necessarily desire longer copyright protection. Conversely, even if they are not strongly motivated by monetary reward, if the works they produce generate royalties, they will prefer a longer term of protection. Evidence indicates that the greater the royalties received, the longer will be the protection demanded. In addition, the length of protection desired varies with different types of work produced and different groups of academic authors. Given a choice, most prefer a shorter term of 20 years or less with an option to renew when the term expires. This coincides with the fact that they came from various backgrounds and that they produce different types of work and that the successes of their works in the market varies. The study suggests that the copyright protection term should depend on the individual creator rather than having a single term that fits all. In this way only works that need protection will be protected and works that no longer need protection could depart to the public domain.


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