Justice Ginsburg, delivered the opinion of the Court.
This copyright case concerns the rights of freelance authors and a presumptive privilege of their publishers. The litigation was initiated by six freelance authors and relates to articles they contributed to three print periodicals (two newspapers and one magazine). Under agreements with the periodicals' publishers, but without the freelancers' consent, two computer database companies placed copies of the freelancers' articles—along with all other articles from the periodicals in which the freelancers' work appeared—into three databases. Whether written by a freelancer or staff member, each article is presented to, and retrievable by, the user in isolation, clear of the context the original print publication presented.
The freelance authors' complaint alleged that their copyrights had been infringed by the inclusion of their articles in the databases. The publishers, in response, relied on the
Specifically, the publishers maintained that, as copyright owners of collective works, i. e., the original print publications, they had merely exercised "the privilege" § 201(c) accords them to "reproduc[e] and distribut[e]" the author's discretely copyrighted contribution.
In agreement with the Second Circuit, we hold that § 201(c) does not authorize the copying at issue here. The publishers are not sheltered by § 201(c), we conclude, because the databases reproduce and distribute articles standing alone and not in context, not "as part of that particular collective work" to which the author contributed, "as part of . . . any revision" thereof, or "as part of . . . any later collective work in the same series." Both the print publishers and the electronic publishers, we rule, have infringed the copyrights of the freelance authors.
Respondents Jonathan Tasini, Mary Kay Blakely, Barbara Garson, Margot Mifflin, Sonia Jaffe Robbins, and David S. Whitford are authors (Authors). Between 1990 and 1993, they wrote the 21 articles (Articles) on which this dispute centers. Tasini, Mifflin, and Blakely contributed 12 Articles to The New York Times, the daily newspaper published by
At the time the Articles were published, all three Print Publishers had agreements with petitioner LEXIS/NEXIS (formerly Mead Data Central Corp.), owner and operator of NEXIS, a computerized database that stores information in a text-only format. NEXIS contains articles from hundreds of journals (newspapers and periodicals) spanning many years. The Print Publishers have licensed to LEXIS/ NEXIS the text of articles appearing in the three periodicals. The licenses authorize LEXIS/NEXIS to copy and sell any portion of those texts.
Pursuant to the licensing agreements, the Print Publishers regularly provide LEXIS/NEXIS with a batch of all the articles published in each periodical edition. The Print Publisher codes each article to facilitate computerized retrieval, then transmits it in a separate file. After further coding, LEXIS/NEXIS places the article in the central discs of its database.
The Times (but not Newsday or Time) also has licensing agreements with petitioner University Microfilms International (UMI). The agreements authorize reproduction of Times materials on two CD—ROM products, the New York Times OnDisc (NYTO) and General Periodicals OnDisc (GPO).
Like NEXIS, NYTO is a text-only system. Unlike NEXIS, NYTO, as its name suggests, contains only the Times. Pursuant to a three-way agreement, LEXIS/ NEXIS provides UMI with computer files containing each article as transmitted by the Times to LEXIS/NEXIS. Like LEXIS/NEXIS, UMI marks each article with special codes. UMI also provides an index of all the articles in NYTO. Articles appear in NYTO in essentially the same way they appear in NEXIS, i. e., with identifying information (author, title, etc.), but without original formatting or accompanying images.
Articles are accessed through NYTO and GPO much as they are accessed through NEXIS. The user enters a search query using similar criteria (e. g., author, headline, date). The computer program searches available indexes and abstracts, and retrieves a list of results matching the query. The user then may view each article within the search result, and may print the article or download it to a disc. The display of each article provides no links to articles appearing on other pages of the original print publications.
On December 16, 1993, the Authors filed this civil action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Authors alleged that their copyrights were infringed when, as permitted and facilitated by the Print Publishers, LEXIS/NEXIS and UMI (Electronic Publishers) placed the Articles in the NEXIS, NYTO, and GPO databases (Databases). The Authors sought declaratory
The District Court granted summary judgment for the Publishers, holding that § 201(c) shielded the Database reproductions. 972 F.Supp. 804, 806 (1997). The privilege conferred by § 201(c) is transferable, the court first concluded, and therefore could be conveyed from the original Print Publishers to the Electronic Publishers. Id., at 816. Next, the court determined, the Databases reproduced and distributed the Authors' works, in § 201(c)'s words, "as part of . . . [a] revision of that collective work" to which the Authors had first contributed. To qualify as "revisions," according to the court, works need only "preserve some significant original aspect of [collective works]—whether an original selection or an original arrangement." Id., at 821. This criterion was met, in the District Court's view, because the Databases preserved the Print Publishers' "selection of articles" by copying all of the articles originally assembled in the periodicals' daily or weekly issues. Id., at 823. The Databases "highlight[ed]" the connection between the articles and the print periodicals, the court observed, by showing for each article not only the author and periodical, but also the print publication's particular issue and page numbers. Id., at 824 ("[T]he electronic technologies not only copy the publisher defendants' complete original `selection' of articles, they tag those articles in such a way that the publisher defendants' original selection remains evident on line.").
The Authors appealed, and the Second Circuit reversed. 206 F.3d 161 (1999). The Court of Appeals granted summary judgment for the Authors on the ground that the Databases were not among the collective works covered by § 201(c), and specifically, were not "revisions" of the periodicals in which the Articles first appeared. Id., at 167-170. Just as § 201(c) does not "permit a Publisher to sell a hard
We granted certiorari to determine whether the copying of the Authors' Articles in the Databases is privileged by 17 U. S. C. § 201(c). 531 U.S. 978 (2000). Like the Court of Appeals, we conclude that the § 201(c) privilege does not override the Authors' copyrights, for the Databases do not reproduce and distribute the Articles as part of a collective work privileged by § 201(c). Accordingly, and again like the Court of Appeals, we find it unnecessary to determine whether the privilege is transferable.
Under the Copyright Act, as amended in 1976, "[c]opyright protection subsists . . . in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression .. . from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated." 17 U. S. C. § 102(a). When, as in this case, a freelance author has contributed an article to a "collective work" such as a newspaper or magazine, see § 101 (defining "collective work"), the statute recognizes two distinct copyrighted works: "Copyright in each separate contribution to a collec-
Prior to the 1976 revision, as the courts below recognized, see 206 F. 3d, at 168; 972 F. Supp., at 815, authors risked losing their rights when they placed an article in a collective work. Pre-1976 copyright law recognized a freelance author's copyright in a published article only when the article was printed with a copyright notice in the author's name. See Copyright Act of 1909, § 18, 35 Stat. 1079. When publishers, exercising their superior bargaining power over authors, declined to print notices in each contributor's name, the author's copyright was put in jeopardy. See Kaminstein, Divisibility of Copyrights, Study No. 11, in Copyright Law Revision Studies Nos. 11-13, prepared for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 86th Cong., 2d Sess., 18 (1960). The author did not have the option to assign only the right of publication in the periodical; such a partial assignment was blocked by the doctrine of copyright "indivisibility." See id., at 11. Thus, when a copyright notice appeared only in the publisher's name, the author's work would fall into the public domain, unless the author's copyright, in its entirety, had passed to the publisher. See id., at 18. Such complete transfer might be accomplished by a contract, perhaps one with a provision, not easily enforced, for later retransfer of rights back to the author. See id., at 20-22. Or, absent a specific contract, a court might find that an author had tacitly
In the 1976 revision, Congress acted to "clarify and improve [this] confused and frequently unfair legal situation with respect to rights in contributions." H. R. Rep. No. 94— 1476, p. 122 (1976) (hereinafter H. R. Rep.).
Section 201(c) both describes and circumscribes the "privilege" a publisher acquires regarding an author's contribution to a collective work:
A newspaper or magazine publisher is thus privileged to reproduce or distribute an article contributed by a freelance author, absent a contract otherwise providing, only "as part of" any (or all) of three categories of collective works: (a) "that collective work" to which the author contributed her work, (b) "any revision of that collective work," or (c) "any later collective work in the same series." In accord with Congress' prescription, a "publishing company could reprint
Essentially, § 201(c) adjusts a publisher's copyright in its collective work to accommodate a freelancer's copyright in her contribution. If there is demand for a freelance article standing alone or in a new collection, the Copyright Act allows the freelancer to benefit from that demand; after authorizing initial publication, the freelancer may also sell the article to others. Cf. Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 229 (1990) ("[w]hen an author produces a work which later commands a higher price in the market than the original bargain provided, the copyright statute [i. e., the separate renewal term of former 17 U. S. C. § 24] is designed to provide the author the power to negotiate for the realized value of the work"); id., at 230 (noting author's "inalienable termination right" under current 17 U. S. C. §§ 203, 302 (1994 ed. and Supp. V)). It would scarcely "preserve the author's copyright in a contribution" as contemplated by Congress, H. R. Rep. 122, if a newspaper or magazine publisher were permitted to reproduce or distribute copies of the author's contribution in isolation or within new collective works. See Gordon, Fine-Tuning Tasini: Privileges of Electronic Distribution and Reproduction, 66 Brooklyn L. Rev. 473, 484 (2000).
In the instant case, the Authors wrote several Articles and gave the Print Publishers permission to publish the Articles in certain newspapers and magazines. It is undisputed that the Authors hold copyrights and, therefore, exclusive rights in the Articles.
In determining whether the Articles have been reproduced and distributed "as part of" a "revision" of the collective works in issue, we focus on the Articles as presented to, and perceptible by, the user of the Databases. See § 102 (copyright protection subsists in original works fixed in any medium "from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated"); see also § 101 (1994 ed., Supp. V) (definitions of "copies" and "fixed"); Haemmerli, Commentary: Tasini v. New York Times Co., 22 Colum.-VLA. J. L. & Arts 129, 142-143 (1998). In this case, the three Databases present articles to users clear of the context provided either by the original periodical editions or by any revision of those editions. The Databases first prompt users to search the universe of their contents: thousands or millions of files containing
One might view the articles as parts of a new compendium—namely, the entirety of works in the Database. In that compendium, each edition of each periodical represents only a miniscule fraction of the ever-expanding Database. The Database no more constitutes a "revision" of each constituent edition than a 400-page novel quoting a sonnet in passing would represent a "revision" of that poem. "Revision" denotes a new "version," and a version is, in this setting, a "distinct form of something regarded by its creator or others as one work." Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1944, 2545 (1976). The massive whole of the Database is not recognizable as a new version of its every small part.
Alternatively, one could view the Articles in the Databases "as part of" no larger work at all, but simply as individual articles presented individually. That each article bears marks of its origin in a particular periodical (less vivid marks in NEXIS and NYTO, more vivid marks in GPO) suggests the article was previously part of that periodical. But the markings do not mean the article is currently reproduced or distributed as part of the periodical. The Databases' reproduction and distribution of individual Articles—simply as
The Publishers press an analogy between the Databases, on the one hand, and microfilm and microfiche, on the other. We find the analogy wanting. Microforms typically contain continuous photographic reproductions of a periodical in the medium of miniaturized film. Accordingly, articles appear on the microforms, writ very small, in precisely the position in which the articles appeared in the newspaper. The Times, for example, printed the beginning of Blakely's "Remembering Jane" Article on page 26 of the Magazine in the September 23, 1990, edition; the microfilm version of the Times reproduces that same Article on film in the very same position, within a film reproduction of the entire Magazine, in turn within a reproduction of the entire September 23, 1990, edition. True, the microfilm roll contains multiple editions, and the microfilm user can adjust the machine lens to focus only on the Article, to the exclusion of surrounding material. Nonetheless, the user first encounters the Article in context. In the Databases, by contrast, the Articles appear disconnected from their original context. In NEXIS and NYTO, the user sees the "Jane" Article apart even from the remainder of page 26. In GPO, the user sees the Article within the context of page 26, but clear of the context of page 25 or page 27, the rest of the Magazine, or the remainder of the day's newspaper. In short, unlike microforms, the Databases do not perceptibly reproduce articles as part of the
Invoking the concept of "media neutrality," the Publishers urge that the "transfer of a work between media" does not "alte[r] the character of" that work for copyright purposes. Brief for Petitioners 23. That is indeed true. See 17 U. S. C. § 102(a) (copyright protection subsists in original works "fixed in any tangible medium of expression"). But unlike the conversion of newsprint to microfilm, the transfer of articles to the Databases does not represent a mere conversion of intact periodicals (or revisions of periodicals) from one medium to another. The Databases offer users individual articles, not intact periodicals. In this case, media neutrality should protect the Authors' rights in the individual Articles to the extent those Articles are now presented individually, outside the collective work context, within the Databases' new media.
For the purpose at hand—determining whether the Authors' copyrights have been infringed—an analogy to an
Viewing this strange library, one could not, consistent with ordinary English usage, characterize the articles "as part of" a "revision" of the editions in which the articles first appeared. In substance, however, the Databases differ from the file room only to the extent they aggregate articles in electronic packages (the LEXIS/NEXIS central discs or UMI CD—ROMs), while the file room stores articles in spatially separate files. The crucial fact is that the Databases, like the hypothetical library, store and retrieve articles separately within a vast domain of diverse texts. Such a storage and retrieval system effectively overrides the Authors' exclusive
The Publishers claim the protection of § 201(c) because users can manipulate the Databases to generate search results consisting entirely of articles from a particular periodical edition. By this logic, § 201(c) would cover the hypothetical library if, in response to a request, that library's expert staff assembled all of the articles from a particular periodical edition. However, the fact that a third party can manipulate a database to produce a noninfringing document does not mean the database is not infringing. Under § 201(c), the question is not whether a user can generate a revision of a collective work from a database, but whether the database itself perceptibly presents the author's contribution as part of a revision of the collective work. That result is not accomplished by these Databases.
The Publishers finally invoke Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984). That decision, however, does not genuinely aid their argument. Sony held that the "sale of copying equipment" does not constitute contributory infringement if the equipment is "capable of substantial noninfringing uses." Id., at 442. The Publishers suggest that their Databases could be liable only under a theory of contributory infringement, based on enduser conduct, which the Authors did not plead. The Electronic Publishers, however, are not merely selling "equipment"; they are selling copies of the Articles. And, as we have explained, it is the copies themselves, without any manipulation by users, that fall outside the scope of the § 201(c) privilege.
The Publishers warn that a ruling for the Authors will have "devastating" consequences. Brief for Petitioners 49. The Databases, the Publishers note, provide easy access to
Notwithstanding the dire predictions from some quarters, see also post, at 520 (Stevens, J., dissenting), it hardly follows from today's decision that an injunction against the inclusion of these Articles in the Databases (much less all freelance articles in any databases) must issue. See 17 U. S. C. § 502(a) (court "may" enjoin infringement); Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 578, n. 10 (1994) (goals of copyright law are "not always best served by automatically granting injunctive relief"). The parties (Authors and Publishers) may enter into an agreement allowing continued electronic reproduction of the Authors' works; they, and if necessary the courts and Congress, may draw on numerous models for distributing copyrighted works and remunerating authors for their distribution. See, e. g., 17 U. S. C. § 118(b); Broadcast Music, Inc. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 441 U.S. 1, 4-6, 10-12 (1979) (recounting history of blanket music licensing regimes and consent decrees governing their operation).
* * *
We conclude that the Electronic Publishers infringed the Authors' copyrights by reproducing and distributing the Articles in a manner not authorized by the Authors and not privileged by § 201(c). We further conclude that the Print Publishers infringed the Authors' copyrights by authorizing the Electronic Publishers to place the Articles in the Databases and by aiding the Electronic Publishers in that endeavor. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
This case raises an issue of first impression concerning the meaning of the word "revision" as used in § 201(c) of the 1976 revision of the Copyright Act of 1909 (1976 Act). Ironically, the Court today seems unwilling to acknowledge that changes in a collective work far less extensive than those made to prior copyright law by the 1976 "revision" do not merit the same characterization.
To explain my disagreement with the Court's holding, I shall first identify Congress' principal goals in passing the 1976 Act's changes in the prior law with respect to collective works. I will then discuss two analytically separate questions
As the majority correctly observes, prior to 1976, an author's decision to publish her individual article as part of a collective work was a perilous one. Although pre-1976 copyright law recognized the author's copyright in an individual article that was included within a collective work, those rights could be lost if the publisher refused to print the article with a copyright notice in the author's name. 3 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 10.01[C], p. 10-12 (2000).
This harsh rule was, from the author's point of view, exacerbated by the pre-1976 doctrine of copyright "indivisibility," which prevented an author from assigning only limited publication rights to the publisher of a collective work while holding back all other rights to herself.
The 1976 Act's extensive revisions of the copyright law had two principal goals with respect to the rights of freelance authors whose writings appeared as part of larger collective works. First, as the legislative history of § 201(c) unambiguously reveals, one of its most significant aims was to "preserve the author's copyright in a contribution even if the contribution does not bear a separate notice in the author's name, and without requiring any unqualified transfer of rights to the owner of the collective work." H. R. Rep. No. 94-1476, p. 122 (1976) (hereinafter H. R. Rep.) (discussing the purpose of § 201(c)). Indeed, § 404(a) states that "a single notice applicable to the collective work as a whole is sufficient" to protect the author's rights.
The second significant change effected by the 1976 Act clarified the scope of the privilege granted to the publisher of a collective work. While pre-1976 law had the effect of encouraging an author to transfer her entire copyright to the
Indeed, the conclusion that the petitioners' actions were lawful is fully consistent with both of Congress' principal goals for collective works in the 1976 Act. First, neither the publication of the collective works by the Print Publishers nor their transfer to the Electronic Databases had any impact on the legal status of the copyrights of the respondents' individual contributions.
Not only is petitioners' position consistent with Congress' general goals in the 1976 Act, it is also consistent with the text of § 201(c). That provision allows the publisher of a collective work to "reproduc[e] and distribut[e] the contribution as part of that particular collective work, any revision of that collective work, and any later collective work in the same series." The central question in this case, then, is whether petitioners are correct when they argue that publication of the respondents' articles in the various Electronic Databases at issue in this case is nothing more than "reproduc[tion] and distribut[ion] [of] the contribution as part of . . . revision[s] of [the original] collective work[s]" in which respondents' articles appeared. I agree with petitioners that neither the conversion of the Print Publishers' collective works from printed to electronic form, nor the transmission of those electronic versions of the collective works to the Electronic Databases, nor even the actions of the Electronic Databases once they receive those electronic versions does anything to deprive those electronic versions of their status as mere "revision[s]" of the original collective works.
A proper analysis of this case benefits from an incremental approach. Accordingly, I begin by discussing an issue the majority largely ignores: whether a collection of articles from a single edition of the New York Times (i. e., the batch of files the Print Publishers periodically send to the Electronic Databases) constitutes a "revision" of an individual edition of the paper. In other words, does a single article within such a collection exist as "part of" a "revision"? Like the majority, I believe that the crucial inquiry is whether the article appears within the "context" of the original collective work. Ante, at 502. But this question simply raises the further issue of precisely how much "context" is enough.
I see no compelling reason why a collection of files corresponding to a single edition of the New York Times, standing alone, cannot constitute a "revision" of that day's New York Times. It might be argued, as respondents appear to do, that the presentation of each article within its own electronic file makes it impossible to claim that the collection of files as a whole amounts to a "revision." Brief for Respondents Tasini et al. 34. But the conversion of the text of the overall collective work into separate electronic files should not, by itself, decide the question. After all, one of the hallmarks of copyright policy, as the majority recognizes, ante, at 502, is the principle of media neutrality. See H. R. Rep. 53.
No one doubts that the New York Times has the right to reprint its issues in Braille, in a foreign language, or in
Although the Court does not separately discuss the question whether the groups of files that the New York Times sends to the Electronic Databases constitute "revision[s]," its reasoning strongly suggests that it would not accept such a characterization. The majority, for example, places significant emphasis on the differences between the various Electronic Databases and microform, a medium that admittedly qualifies as a revision under § 201(c).
In contrast, I think that a proper respect for media neutrality suggests that the New York Times, reproduced as a collection of individual ASCII files, should be treated as a "revision" of the original edition, as long as each article explicitly refers to the original collective work and as long as substantially the rest of the collective work is, at the same time, readily accessible to the reader of the individual file. In this case, no one disputes that the first pieces of information a user sees when looking at an individual ASCII article file are the name of the publication in which the article appeared, the edition of that publication, and the location of the article within that edition. I agree with the majority that such labeling alone is insufficient to establish that the individual file exists as "part of" a revision of the original collective work. See ante, at 500-501. But such labeling is not all there is in the group of files sent to the Electronic Databases.
In addition to the labels, the batch of electronic files contains the entire editorial content of the original edition of the New York Times for that day. That is, while I might agree that a single article, standing alone, even when coded with identifying information (e. g., publication, edition date,
To see why an electronic version of the New York Times made up of a group of individual ASCII article files, standing alone, may be considered a § 201(c) revision, suppose that, instead of transmitting to NEXIS the articles making up a particular day's edition, the New York Times saves all of the individual files on a single floppy disk, labels that disk "New York Times, October 31, 2000," and sells copies of the disk to users as the electronic version of that day's New York Times. The disk reproduces the creative, editorial selection of that edition of the New York Times. The reader, after all, has at his fingertips substantially all of the relevant content of the October 31 edition of the collective work. Moreover, each individual article makes explicit reference to that selection by including tags that remind the reader that it is a part of the New York Times for October 31, 2000. Such a disk might well constitute "that particular collective work"; it would surely qualify as a "revision" of the original collective
Once one accepts the premise that a disk containing all the files from the October 31, 2000, New York Times can constitute a "revision," there is no reason to treat any differently the same set of files, stored in a folder on the hard disk of a computer at the New York Times. Thus, at least before it is republished by the Electronic Databases, the collection of files that the New York Times transmits to them constitutes a revision, in electronic form, of a particular edition of the New York Times.
The next question, then, is whether anything that the Electronic Databases do to the transmitted "revision" strips it of that status. The heart of the Court's reasoning in this respect, as I understand it, is that, once received and processed by Electronic Databases, the data transmitted by the New York Times cannot be viewed as "revisions" within the meaning of § 201(c) because of the way that data is stored and made available to the public by those Databases. First, the Court points to the fact that "the three Databases present articles to users clear of the context provided either by the original periodical editions or by any revision of those editions." Ante, at 499. I have already addressed these formatting concerns. Second, and not wholly unrelated to the first point, however, the Court appears to think that the commingling of my hypothetical collection of ASCII article files from the October 31, 2000, New York Times with similar collections of files from other editions of the New York Times (or from other periodicals) within one database would deprive that collection of revision status. See ante, at 501, n. 9. Even if my imaginary floppy disk could, in isolation, be considered a revision, the majority might
If my hypothetical October 31, 2000, floppy disk can be a revision, I do not see why the inclusion of other editions and other periodicals is any more significant than the placement of a single edition of the New York Times in a large public library or in a bookstore. Each individual file still reminds the reader that he is viewing "part of" a particular collective work. And the entire editorial content of that work still exists at the reader's fingertips.
It is true that, once the revision of the October 31, 2000, New York Times is surrounded by the additional content, it can be conceptualized as existing as part of an even larger collective work (e. g., the entire NEXIS database). See ante, at 500. The question then becomes whether this ability to conceive of a revision of a collective work as existing within a larger "collective work" changes the status of the original revision. Section 201(c)'s requirement that the article be published only as "part of . . . any revision of that collective work " does not compel any particular answer to that question. A microfilm of the New York Times for October 31, 2000, does not cease to be a revision of that individual collective work simply because it is stored on the same roll of film as other editions of the Times or on a library shelf containing hundreds of other microfilm periodicals. Nor does § 201(c) compel the counterintuitive conclusion that the microfilm version of the Times would cease to be a revision simply because its publishers might choose to sell it on rolls of film that contained a year's editions of both the New York Times and the Herald-Tribune. Similarly, the placement of
Finally, the mere fact that an individual user may either view or print copies of individual articles stored on the Electronic Databases does not change the nature of the revisions contained within those databases. The same media-specific necessities that allow the publishers to store and make available the original collective work as a collection of individual digital files make it reasonable for the Electronic Databases to enable the user to download or print only those files in which the user has a particular interest. But this is no different from microfilm. Just as nothing intrinsic in the nature of microfilm dictates to a user how much or how little of a microform edition of the New York Times she must copy, nothing intrinsic in the Electronic Databases dictates to a user how much (or how little) of a particular edition of the New York Times to view or print. It is up to the user in each instance to decide whether to employ the publisher's product in a manner that infringes either the publisher's or the author's copyright. And to the extent that the user's decision to make a copy of a particular article violates the author's copyright in that article, such infringing third-party behavior should not be attributed to the database.
My reading of "revision," as encompassing products like the Electronic Databases, is not the only possible answer to
It is likely that the Congress that enacted the 1976 revision of the law of copyright did not anticipate the developments that occurred in the 1980's which gave rise to the practices challenged in this litigation. See Miller, Copyright Protection for Computer Programs, Databases, and Computer-Generated Works: Is Anything New Since CONTU?, 106 Harv. L. Rev. 977, 979 (1993) (in 1976, "Congress . . . decided to avoid grappling with technological issues that obviously required more study than the legislative process was then willing to give them").
Macaulay wrote that copyright is "a tax on readers for the purpose of giving a bounty to writers." T. Macaulay, Speeches on Copyright 11 (A. Thorndike ed. 1915). That tax restricts the dissemination of writings, but only insofar as necessary to encourage their production, the bounty's basic objective. See U. S. Const., Art. I, § 8, cl. 8. In other words, "[t]he primary purpose of copyright is not to reward the author, but is rather to secure `the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors.' " 1 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Copyright § 1.03[A] (2000) (quoting Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal, 286 U.S. 123, 127 (1932)); see also Breyer, The Uneasy Case for Copyright: A Study of
The majority discounts the effect its decision will have on the availability of comprehensive digital databases, ante, at 504-505, but I am not as confident. As petitioners' amici have persuasively argued, the difficulties of locating individual freelance authors and the potential of exposure to statutory damages may well have the effect of forcing electronic archives to purge freelance pieces from their databases.
Nor is it clear that Keats will gain any prospective benefits from a victory in this case. As counsel for petitioners represented at oral argument, since 1995, the New York Times has required freelance authors to grant the Times "electronic rights" to articles. Tr. of Oral Arg. 7. And the inclusion of such a term has had no effect on the compensation authors receive. See ibid. This is understandable because, even if one accepts the majority's characterization of the Electronic Databases as collections of freestanding articles, demand for databases like NEXIS probably does not reflect a "demand for a freelance article standing alone," ante, at 497, to which the publishers are greedily helping themselves. Cf. Ryan v. Carl Corp., 23 F.Supp.2d 1146, 1150-1151 (ND Cal. 1998) ("[T]he value added by the publisher to a reproduced article is significant").
Instead, it seems far more likely that demand for the Electronic Databases reflects demand for a product that will provide a user with the means to quickly search through scores of complete periodicals. The comments of historian Douglas Brinkley are instructive in this respect:
Users like Douglas Brinkley do not go to NEXIS because it contains a score of individual articles by Jonathan Tasini.
Because it is likely that Congress did not consider the question raised by this case when drafting § 201(c), because I think the District Court's reading of that provision is reasonable and consistent with the statute's purposes, and because the principal goals of copyright policy are better served by that reading, I would reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The majority is correct that we cannot know in advance the effects of today's decision on the comprehensiveness of electronic databases. We can be fairly certain, however, that it will provide little, if any, benefit to either authors or readers.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the American Library Association et al.by Arnold P. Lutzker; for the Authors Guild, Inc., et al. by Leon Friedman; for the International Federation of Journalists by Thomas M. Peterson and Brett M. Schuman; and for Ellen Schrecker et al. by Theodore M. Lieverman.
Briefs of amici curiae were filed for the American Intellectual Property Law Association by Paul E. Lacy and Daniel W. McDonald; and for the American Society of Media Photographers, Inc., et al. by L. Donald Prutzman and Victor S. Perlman.
"(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;
"(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;
"(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
"(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;
"(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and
"(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission."
More to the point, even if the dissent is correct that some authors, in the long run, are helped, not hurt, by Database reproductions, the fact remains that the Authors who brought the case now before us have asserted their rights under § 201(c). We may not invoke our conception of their interests to diminish those rights.
Moreover, the majority's single-minded focus on "authorial rights" appears to lead it to believe that, because some authors may benefit from its decision, that decision must be the one intended by Congress. It cites the "`economic philosophy behind the [Copyright Clause]' " as consistent with its view that Congress adjusted "the author/publisher balance" precisely to avoid the types of uses embodied in the Electronic Databases. See ante, at 495, n. 3. But, as I have already argued, see supra, at 519, there is no indication that Congress ever considered the issue presented in this case. It thus simply begs the question for the majority to argue that the right not to have a work included within the Electronic Databases is an "authorial right" that "Congress [has] established," ante, at 506 (emphasis added), or that—given Congress' failure clearly to address itself to the question—a decision allowing such inclusion would amount to "diminish[ing] " authorial "rights" on the basis of "our conception of their interests," ante, at 498, n. 6 (emphasis added).