The Philosophy behind Fair Use: Another Step towards Utilitarianism

Giovanni Tamburrin, Sergey Butakov


iParadigms, a company involved in plagiarism detection, was hold not liable for the unauthorized use and archival of students’ papers. Both the District and Appellate Courts of Virginia, in fact, maintained that the exception of fair use applied to the copyright infringement action.   As the relevant facts represent a novelty in case law, it might plausible the hypothesis that iParadigms precedent is not going to be followed in forthcoming cases. This investigation is an attempt to appreciate the possibilities that such an event could happen. In particular, the attention is focused on the special nature of the Copyright Act which is simultaneously backed by opposite theoretical backgrounds such as utilitarianism and moral desert as well as personhood theories, among others. The prevailing of one theory over another shall depend on how liberally or strictly the fair use doctrine shall be interpreted.   Despite findings demonstrate judges have applied the fair use doctrine according to the correct conceptions of justice, the discussion ends up recommending a new system of plagiarism detection that drastically reduces the likelihood of copyright infringement actions.

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