My project is motivated by a host of problems that arise in the literature of U.S. copyright law, including legal decisions and established doctrines that are alternatively arbitrary, counterintuitive, and contradictory. The central argument of my dissertation is that these problems arise from a failure in copyright law to recognize the nature of its objects, authored works, and that a coherent and stable approach to copyright must be built upon such an understanding. To this end, I outline a multidimensional ontology of authored works suitable for grounding the central principles and practical application of copyright.
Centrally, I contend, a reasonable understanding of copyright depends on grasping four dimensions of the nature of authored works:
Finally, I consider the right of copyright. First showing how the strongest contenders for grounding this right—the Lockean and Constitutional approaches—fail to align with our understanding of authored works, I proceed to sketch an alternative approach to grounding the right of copyright—a right based on the author's creativity as realized in the authored work—building on the ontological account outlined above.