My pal Tim Wu continues to say incredibly smart and simple things about copyright, this time coming up with a great working definition of fair use for the 21st century.
Tim's been debating NBC's chief counsel on a New York Times blog, and they've gotten as far as fair use. Tim busts out a great working definition for fair use that simple enough to understand that it can be reliably followed by casual remixers and users of content, but not so simple as to be idiotic: if it adds new value, it's fair use; if it substitutes for the original, it's infringing.
It's going to take me a while to get my head around the implications of this -- questions like how complex it will be to adjudicate "substitution" are thorny indeed ("I have a store where I sell licenses to move your DVDs to your iPod; your DVD-ripper substitutes for my product."). But if we expect the general public to abide by some kind of copyright system, it had better be one that's simpler and more streamlined than the current system, which has been described as incomprehensible even by its most renowned scholars.
That’s why it is time to recognize a simpler principle for fair use: work that adds to the value of the original, as opposed to substituting for the original, is fair use. In my view that’s a principle already behind the traditional lines: no one (well, nearly no one) would watch Mel Brook’s Spaceballs as a substitute for Star Wars; a book review is no substitute for reading The Naked and the Dead. They are complements to the original work, not substitutes, and that makes all the difference.
This simple concept would bring much clarity to the problems of secondary authorship on the web. Fan guides like the Harry Potter Lexicon or Lostpedia are not substitutes for reading the book or watching the show, and that should be the end of the legal questions surrounding them. The same goes for reasonable tribute videos like this great Guyz Nite tribute to “Die Hard.” On the other hand, its obviously not fair use to scan a book and put it online, or distribute copyrighted films using BitTorent.
We must never forget that copyright is about authorship; and secondary authors, while never as famous as the original authors, deserve some respect. Fixing fair use is one way to give them that.
See also: Why JK Rowling will lose her suit against The Harry Potter Lexicon
Unified Patents raises money from companies that are the target of patent-trolling and then uses it to challenge the most widely used patents in each of its members’ sectors: now it’s going for the gold.
Jamie writes, “A photographer filed on Monday a $1 billion copyright infringement suit in New York against Getty Images’ American arm, alleging that the company is sending out letters demanding licensing fees for her photos that were donated to the Library of Congress.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just filed a lawsuit that challenges the Constitutionality of Section 1201 of the DMCA, the “Digital Rights Management” provision of the law, a notoriously overbroad law that bans activities that bypass or weaken copyright access-control systems, including reconfiguring software-enabled devices (making sure your IoT light-socket will accept third-party lightbulbs; tapping […]
Looks like all of your potential employers are hiring candidates with programming skills (which you don’t have). With all of the languages out there today, it’s tough to know where to start.With the Complete Front-End to Back-End Coding Bundle, you can beef your resume up in all the right places, no confusion necessary. This package of […]
Those of us who love music wish we could listen to it 24/7. But it’s impossible when we’re trying to converse with our friends, or when are swimming in the local pool.That is, until now. The KOAR Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headset, now 48% off, has changed the audio game.Made with lightweight titanium memory metal, this headset boasts patented bone conduction technology to transport sound […]
It’s one thing to enjoy dinner at home and a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with your best friend, Netflix, but it’s another thing entirely to make that meal from scratch and get that wine delivered right to your doorstep.But what if we told you there’s a way to make this possible? To keep your social life, […]