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Copyright in the networked world: gray copyright

Michael Seadle (Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 13 June 2008




This paper uses an inductive approach to define “gray copyright.” It is needed to describe those situations in which the practical degree of copyright protection can best be measured in shades of risk rather than in simple terms of black and white.


Two methods are used. One is an inductive definition builds up the term's meaning example by example and layer by layer. The second is a behavioral experiment in the spirit of the prisoner's dilemma game.


In the examples of gray copyrights the deciding factor in the grayness is not its legal status, but the economic value of enforcing the usage rights. In the experiment the students have an opportunity to acquire a personal sense of the risks and choices involved in copyright infringements.


This analysis shifts the emphasis from the question of legal right and wrong to the economic issue of what risks are potential infringers and rights holders prepared to take.



Seadle, M. (2008), "Copyright in the networked world: gray copyright", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 325-332.



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