Nice and timely, as usual, from Techdirt.
Via Techdirt: Here is Part II of our excerpt from Chapter 1 of Reframing Fair Use by Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, which is our May selection for the Techdirt Book Club. You can read Part I here. We'll have another excerpt soon, and will be scheduling the author chat in the near future.
from the reclaiming-fair-use dept
by Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi
Fri, May 18th 2012 6:29pm
Fair use was in eclipse for decades, with judges, lawyers, legal scholars, and creators unsure of its interpretation and convinced of its unreliability. Since the late 1990s, fair use has returned to the scene, and has become a sturdy tool for a wide range of creators and users. This transformation has been remarkable; we discuss it in detail in Chapter 5, and provide highlights here.
It happened in part because of changing scholarship. A generation of legal scholars has developed arguments for fair use as they have analyzed copyright’s effect on cultural expression. At the same time, cultural studies scholars have showcased the relevance of fair use to their work, which often involves analyzing popular culture. Teachers and scholars are beginning to take up the fair use banner, publicly using their rights and encouraging their students to do the same.
Settled, established communities of creators, administrators and users—filmmakers, teachers of English and visual art, librarians, makers of open course ware, poets, and dance archivists--have identified fair use as a necessary tool for them to use to achieve their missions. They have turned to the sturdy tool of consensus interpretation, by making codes of best practices in fair use through their professional associations.
Members of these communities have become active advocates for fair use. Their organizations and representatives have appeared before the Copyright Office to testify about the way that the DMCA, which makes illegal the breaking of encryption on DVDs, limits their ability to employ fair use in their work.
Remix artists of all kinds, working online, have come to adopt the claim of fair use as an anti-corporate banner. They trade information on fair use in conferences and conventions. When they receive takedown notices on YouTube, they issue counter-takedown notices and explain why their uses are fair. Remixers have also gone before the Copyright Office to protest the way that the DMCA impedes their creations, which are often socially critical.
New businesses have flourished employing fair use, and their trade associations have supported them. Google, the Consumer Electronics Association, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association have all advocated for fair use. Legal and professional services for communities of practice, such as lawyers and web developers, have built their fair use expertise to serve their clients better.
Think tanks and advocacy organizations have promoted fair use. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the American Civil Liberties Union, Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain and the Stanford Fair Use Project have all taken action on fair use. Between the scholars, the creators, artists, and organizations, fair use is emerging out of a twilight existence where, for decades, it had lived. During those decades, many professionals and especially professionals in the corporate media environment—whether broadcast journalism, cable documentary, or newspapers—routinely and extensively employed fair use. But if you weren’t a professional, you might not even have heard of it. That has changed.
The goals of various actors in this resurgence of fair use differ. Some simply want to assert their rights to be able to improve their work, lower their costs and start or grow new businesses. Some want to expand the sphere of freedom of expression, so that copyrighted culture does not become off-limits for new work. Some believe that an expansion of fair use rights is imperative both to keep fair use as copyright policy is tinkered with, and to maintain the crucial principle of balance between owners’ rights and the society’s investment in new cultural creation. Some believe that fair use, exercised to the maximum, will provide concrete experience of the limitations of today’s copyright law, and point to more effective change. They all share a common understanding that individual and community action simply to assert their rights has an immediate and long-range effect on markets and policy.
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