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Congress continually adjusts copyright law to correspond with the advent of new technologies, such as the World Wide Web. Through copyright law, Congress aims to incentivize authors to create and disseminate new works without stifling their creativity by providing copyright holders with too much protection. The United States Constitution states copyright protection’s goal: “[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Determining the scope of copyright protection, however, is difficult; some authors want perpetual monopolies in their works while others are willing to allow free access to their works after recouping their initial investment.
Because current protections for digital image copyright owners leave creators and content providers vulnerable to mass infringement, legislative action is required to prevent further copyright transgressions and to ensure creative output thrives. Furthermore, copyright owners like Getty may be able to better protect their online content if digital images became copyright protected under Title 17 of the United States Code. This Note argues that the historical practice of safeguarding authors and publishers, coupled with compelling policy concerns, provide ample justification for extending sui generis copyright protection to digital images.