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Boston University School of Law




As a practical matter, the development of law in the form of enacted legislation often does not keep pace with societal change. At first glance, this fact seems somewhat disturbing since the law, according to some philosophies, should reflect social consensus. However, this is neither remarkable nor cause for concern. The law's processes are deliberative, involving time-consuming public testimony and debate. Thus, the law often plays "catch-up" with social change. This reactive rather than pro-active decision-making is generally desirable as the law is likely to change to reflect well-considered social judgments rather than passing social fancies. This column briefly examines one area of the law -- copyright in digital data -- in which legislative change has been particularly slow, discusses why such change has been slow, and considers the implications of the lack of congressional action in this area for the judiciary and private parties.

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