Friday, August 31, 2007

Great Copyright Law Article on C/Net, Reminds us about "Fair Use" and Content Cartel Overreaching

Came across this great copyright law article on C/Net News. (Tip of the hat to Steve Meyer's DISC & DAT email newsletter for bringing Maura's article to my attention). -R.B.

Perspective: Separating fact from fiction on digital copyrights
Qorvis' Maura Corbett says copyright law wasn't intended to serve as a stick for rights holders to wield against the freedom of information.
By Maura Corbett
Published: August 27, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT

I'll bet you can recite most of the copyright warnings that appear on your screen when you pop in a DVD, or at the end of football game, can't you?

At the very least, we all know that when the warning signs appear, what follows are a few very-important-sounding sentences noting the dire consequences of unauthorized use of what we're about to see. We don't necessarily understand it, but we know it's bad. And if we were to believe what they tell us, discussing Barry Bonds' homeruns around the water cooler would put us all in jail.

Did it ever occur to you that, in many cases, these serious, ubiquitous warnings may not actually be accurate?


.....For example, warnings on many Universal DVDs state, in part, that "any unauthorized exhibition, distribution or copying of this film or any part thereof (including soundtrack) is an infringement of the relevant copyright and will subject the infringer to severe civil and criminal penalties."

This statement is simply untrue--the federal copyright statutes specifically allow unauthorized reproduction for criticism, commentary and other purposes. Just recently, the NFL threatened the media by withholding press credentials for any organization that showed more than 45 seconds of a game.

This is not the way forward. We should not permit rights holders to use copyright law to create new powers for themselves........
Complete article

Commentary & discussion:

Keywords: digital copyright online law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs


Justin said...


Another great article. Keep up the good work. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me regarding the tactics of the "content cartel." At what time after the supposed infringement does the John Doe get his lawsuit? Is it a few weeks after the download took place, a few months? Does the RIAA just bankroll a couple hundred lawsuits over a month or so and then just send out mass letters? Any answer you can give would be much appreciated.

Pat said...

"This is not the way forward. We should not permit rights holders to use copyright law to create new powers for themselves........"

I would also like to point out that this is also illegal. A company can not take away fair use or other rights, even if they claim they are 'licensing' it to you. I want to see someone to call these companies bluffs in court.

raybeckerman said...

Dear justin,
There is no download. Therefore the question is not meaningful.

raybeckerman said...

patrick, I would say the CCIA's lawsuit in the FTC is doing just that.