Confining Cultural Expression: How the Historical Principles Behind Modern Copyright Law Perpetuate Cultural Exclusion

Copyright law is the primary means by which society preserves and protects valued cultural heritage. There is a clear correlation between that which is protected and that which is valued by society for the continued enjoyment of future generations. However, this truth becomes troubling when it is considered that modern copyright continues to espouse antiquated ideals of acceptable cultural production, to the exclusion of the cultural property of many historically marginalized people groups. This article takes a critical look at copyright law to deconstruct the ways in which historical values and assumptions continue to color the modern protection of cultural creation, thereby confining cultural expression and barring protection to the cultural work of the marginalized.