West Virginia Law Review

Document Type

Digital Entrepreneurship: The Incentives and Legal Risks


While advances in digital information technology offer extraordinary possibilities for the exploration and exploitation of literary and artistic expres- sion, these advances also present unprecedented opportunities for intellectual property ("IP") empowerment and the achievement of singular milestones in copyright social justice. The ostensible conflict between copyright digital social utility and digital commoditization has engendered a reemphasis upon the social engineering obligations of the copyright law, and a search for copyright policies which will harmonize these corrivallous objectives. Doctrinal constructions of the copyright law which acknowledge the law's congenital social justice charac- teristics, however, can achieve this equilibrium. The revisualization of the copyright law as an engine for the socio- economic advancement of marginalized communities, complimented by a con- comitant respect for traditional copyright property interests, will enhance the application of digital information technology to the cause of intellectual proper- ty development, exploitation, and social empowerment. Such recognition of copyright social utility/social justice interdependence, and the development of affirmative mechanisms designed to promote more equitable access to the copy- right infrastructure and to correct historical problems of copyright social injus- tice, will ultimately produce a more diverse pool of stakeholders in the copy- right property rights sub-regime. Accordingly, the promulgation of "Digital En- trepreneurship" affirmative initiatives to promote grassroots copyright participa- tion and empowerment will not only further the social justice agenda of the law, but will also appropriately preserve its author incentive function and related copyright social utility mechanisms in the digital information age. Responsibly incorporated into the copyright regime, the copyright social utility potential of digital information technology can be fulfilled. A socially balanced approach to digital age copyright reveals intellectual property empo- werment policy initiatives; it further suggests the construction of a fluid com- pulsory license scheme, which should include a flexible royalty scale assessing non-commercial, quasi-commercial, and commercial payment levies, buttressed by an express unconscionablity mechanism, to symbiotically assure a progres- sive response to digital copyright conflicts. "Digital Entrepreneurship" and other copyright social utility/social justice interdependence analyses and stratagems can thus be applied toward easing some specific tensions among modern copy- right constituencies, and bridging contemporary copyright social utility and commoditization interests.



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