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56 Geo. L. J. 1050 (1967-1968)
Role of the United States in International Copyright-Past, Present, and Future, The

handle is hein.journals/glj56 and id is 1056 raw text is: THE ROLE OF THE UNITED STATES IN
Criticizing the inadequate early reactions of American foreign policy
planners to the development of international copyright, Professor Ringer
points out the need to redefine an international copyright law which
will be responsive to the interests of the developing -nations but will
also preserve the basic purposes of copyright law. Such an effort, she
concludes, requires energetic American involvement,
If, as the familiar aphorism has it, copyright is the metaphysics of
the law, then international copyright must be its cosmology. Though
their true influence is dimly understood at best, a nation's copyright
laws lie at the roots of its culture and intellectual climate. Copyright
provides the inducement for creation and dissemination of the works that
shape our society and, in an imperfect and almost accidental way,
represents one of the foundations upon which freedom of expression
rests.' A country without personal liberty does not need a copyright
law; where authorship and the communications media are controlled
by the state, copyright becomes superfluous.
Copyrighted works represent intangible property that can cross na-
tional boundaries as easily and quickly as the communications techniques
allow. Perhaps it is no accident that the emergence of the international
copyright concept coincided historically with the development of steam-
ships, locomotives, and telegraphy. The widespread use of foreign
works in the education, entertainment, and communications of a country
not only has significant economic and political consequences, but it can
also bring about radical change in that country's culture and society.
Ideally, international copyright regulation should provide the ful-
crum on which exchanges of intellectual materials between countries
are carefully balanced.2 The existing multilateral copyright arrange-
ments, however, have proved increasingly incapable of coping with the
* A.B., 1946, M.A., 1947, George Washington University; LL.B., 1949, Columbia Univer-
sity Law School; Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center. The author
is presently Assistant Register of Copyrights of the United States Copyright Office. The
views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect official positions of the Copyright
Office or of the Library of Congress.
I Cf., e.g., W. DOUGLAS, AN ALMANAC OF LIBBRTY 348 (1954); Chafee, Reflections on
the Law of Copyright: 1, 45 CoLuM. L. REv. 503, 506 (1945).
2See generally Abel, Copyright from the International Viewpoint, 1 J. WORLD TRADE
LAW 399 (1967); Hoffman, The Position of the United States in Relation to International
Copyright Protection of Literary Works, 22 U. QN. L. R . 415 (1953).


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