A set of non-traditional copyright-related principles, practices, and laws that exist alongside and attempt to extend traditional copyright protection. Also: para-copyright.
The movie and music industries have succeeded in lobbying lawmakers to allow them to tighten their grips on their creations by lengthening copyright terms. The law has also extended the scope of copyright protection, creating what critics have called a "paracopyright," which prohibits not only duplicating protected material but in some cases even gaining access to it in the first place.
Robert S. Boynton, "The Tyranny of Copyright?," The New York Times, January 25, 2004
The anticircumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act penalize both the circumvention of technical protection measures, and supplying the means for such circumvention. Such "paracopyright" effectively grants copyright holders sweeping new ability to impose terms of access on content users.
"Anticircumvention misuse," UCLA Law Review, June, 2003
The undersigned law teachers write to express our concern over legislation to implement the 1996 WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties suggested by the Administration and recently introduced as H.R. 2281 and S. 1121. That concern is focussed on the provisions of proposed new Section 1201 of the Copyright Act, which would address the "circumvention of copyright protection systems" by imposing a variety of civil and criminal penalties (as detailed in proposed Section 1203) on the manufacture or sale of technologies capable of being used to overcome technological safeguards applied to copyrighted works, and on the use of such technologies to gain access for whatever purpose to protected works. Although it would be codified in Title 17, Section 1201 would not be an ordinary copyright provision; liability under the section would result from conduct separate and independent from any act of copyright infringement or any intent to promote infringement. Thus, enactment of Section 1201 would represent an unprecedented departure into the zone of what might be called paracopyright an uncharted new domain of legislative provisions designed to strengthen copyright protection by regulating conduct which traditionally has fallen outside the regulatory scope of intellectual property law.
Keith Aoki et al., "letter to The Honorable Howard Coble, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property," September 16, 1997
This word brings together the prefix para-, beside, and the word copyright. It has been causing a few ripples in the intellectual property waters because recent revisions to copyright law, particularly in the U.S., have created new provisions that not only extend copyright protection, but also broaden the definition of what constitutes a copyright violation.
For example, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) contains provisions that make it illegal to create or "traffic in" products that can be used to circumvent built-in copyright protection. In other words, the definition of a copyright violation has been extended from the illegal copying or selling of a work to merely creating a tool that might enable other people to do so. This is far removed from traditional copyright protection, hence the term "paracopyright for such provisions.
Here's the relevant passage from the DCMA's now infamous section 1201, "Circumvention of copyright protection systems":
No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that--
(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;
(B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title; or
(C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person's knowledge for use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.