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Intellectual property law reform in the United States frequently involves balancing the interest rights of holders against the interests of users. As international agreements play an increasingly important role in the development of domestic intellectual property law, striking this balance has become a more complicated process.

Whereas, a few decades ago, resolving the competing needs of owners and users often could be accomplished purely as a matter of domestic policy – whether the outcome was based on high-minded principle, interest group politics, or simple pragmatism – today the proposed resolution to such a conflict more often than not must be tested against the United States’ international obligations under a growing list of trade agreements and intellectual property conventions.

A recent example of this phenomenon, and the focus of this article, involves Congress’s 1998 decision to narrow the scope of the exclusive public performance right in non-dramatic musical compositions (e.g., “pop” music) by significantly broadening one of the longstanding exceptions to that right. This decision was of dubious merit purely as a matter of domestic policy. As this article discusses, the amendment was largely the result of special interest lobbying by the hospitality industry.

Publication Citation

11 Depaul-LCA J. Art & Ent. L. & Pol'y 297 (2002).