Thanks to Erin and Steve Anderson!!!
With fear, uncertainty and misinformation dominating the discourse of copyright and intellectual property, fair use has become one of the most vexing issues in today's academic landscape. What can we do to demystify its mysteries and debunk its supposed dangers? Critical Commons advises that we can get informed, get connected and get active. The aim of this forum is to open up a space on the HASTAC network to share experiences, knowledge and questions regarding fair use. For clarity's sake, we may begin by asking what exactly fair use is (an admirable agenda that is not so simple to accomplish). The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides this answer:
In essence, fair use is a limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright holders. The Copyright Act gives copyright holders the exclusive right to reproduce works for a limited time period. Fair use is a limitation on this right. A use which is considered "fair" does not infringe copyright, even if it involves one of the exclusive rights of copyright holders. Fair use allows consumers to make a copy of part or all of a copyrighted work, even where the copyright holder has not given permission or objects to your use of the work.
Since 1841, fair use has been considered "the guarantee of breathing space for new expression within the confines of Copyright law." And yet, increasingly online media makers are being condemned, censured and threatened by a culture of copyright and intellectual property that ignores this "space for new expression." These owners prefer the issuance of takedown notices and cease and desist letters over the nuanced consideration of fair use concerns. What use can fair use serve in this harsh climate of chilling effects? Critical Commons supplies us with some reasons to be hopeful; ten, to be precise. From a presentation Steve Anderson (co-founder of Critical Commons) delivered recently -
Ten Reasons to be hopeful about Fair Use:
10. The more you know, the less scared you are
- Critical Commons aims to shift the discourse about fair use from being dominated by lawyers and technologists to include the voices of ordinary users, consumers and makers of media. If we are going to practice responsible, ethically defensible media-enhanced scholarship, we need to educate ourselves about the rights and responsibilities of fair use, and participate actively in the expansion and reform of fair use.
9. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor
- Although the DMCA, signed into law in 1996, increased penalties for copyright violations and criminalized any technology that might be used to defeat copyright protections, the safe harbor clause protects service providers from being prosecuted for infringement that takes place over their networks, thus fueling remix culture, DIY and user-generated media.
8. Sharing is good business
- The at the Internet Archive is one success story - as soon as Rick Prelinger started giving the materials in his archive away for free, the commercial part of his business began to boom. Many economic models are emerging that take advantage of sharing rather than fighting against it.
7. Digital Rights Management (DRM) doesn't work
- It's just silly, and consumers understand that it's silly. Organizations such as take the position that, if the media and technology industries are going to treat us all like criminals, then we'd better start acting like it.
6. Aggressive tactics of MPAA and RIAA radicalizing consumers
- People are sick of being called pirates and watching infantilizing ads with every DVD and movie they watch. The recently passed legislation creating the office of Copyright Czar in the White House associates copyright piracy with .
5. Mainstreaming of participatory culture and peer networks
- As represented by the success of Wikipedia and 's The Long Tail.
4. Vibrancy of remix culture
- Fan-vidding, anime music videos, music sampling, remix, cut-up, and mashup videos are all characteristic of today's remix culture. A whole generation is growing up with digital tools and networks that are integral to their identity and self-expression.
3. Open source movements
- The extraordinary efficiency and economic success of non-proprietary technology development (e.g., Apache, Linux, Mozilla, etc.), suggest analogous models in other fields, including open educational resources and .
2. Institutional alternatives to copyright
- Organizations such as the Center for Social Media, Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive, Participatory Culture Foundation, Open Video Alliance, Organization for Transformative Works and many others are providing viable alternatives to conventional copyright and intellectual property regimes.
1. It sucks
- Although fair use is our best and only protection under today's copyright law, it is badly in need of a more radical transformation to support widespread cultural practices and legitimate academic needs. The very fact that fair use is insufficient necessitates the creation of alternative strategies and cultural .
Steve's Slideshare Presentation -
I hope that this topic, and these reasons to be hopeful, stir some thoughts for the HASTAC community. As this forum will be coinciding with a real-life event taking place on USC's campus on Monday, October 27th (Free to the public! If you are in Southern California, please join us!), I will be blogging my account. But please contribute your own thoughts, visit us in Second Life on Monday and be a part of the events as they stream into a viewing space on the IML island!