Whispers will not kill fair use

Whispers will not kill fair use

Summary: Fair use reproduction of copyrighted works can't be eliminated as a matter of fact, let alone in law.

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lobby poster from “A Man to Remember,”  1938 RKO featureBoingboing reports, via Google lawyer William Patry, that some large entertainment companies have launched a "whisper campaign" aimed at killing fair use.

Governments are being told, in effect, that the U.S. Copyright law is incompatible with the Berne Convention, an international treaty on which copyright laws worldwide are based.

Specifically it's being whispered that Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act violates the "three-step test" under which coyrighted works can be copied.

Patry calls this an attempt at swiftboating fair use. Convince enough governments that fair use is incompatible with Berne, and you can force it out of U.S. law.

This is, of course, nonsense. Fair use reproduction of copyrighted works can't be eliminated as a matter of fact, let alone in law.

Why not? You're soaking in it. Right now this piece of copyrighted work lives in thousands of places, on server caches, and on the hard drives of readers.

This constant digital copying is, in fact, the best protection copyright works have of living to the end of their copyright terms, especially under U.S. law.

Want proof? Consider A Man to Remember, a 70-year old RKO film which features a Dalton Trumbo screenplay and was the directorial debut of Garson Kanin.

It starred Edward Ellis (1873-1952), one of those character actors you will see late at night, say "who is that," then spend the rest of the night arguing about it. He might otherwise be lost to history.

But for this.

As the Hollywood Reporter describes it (and this copy of the story is actually on a server at Stanford University) once restorers figured out the copyright issues, the only restorable copy turned out to be in the Netherlands, with Dutch subtitles.

Many copyrighted films have been lost, in whole or in part, because the only copies, on nitrate film, could not be restored in time.

But this story, as poor as you may consider it, will live forever, thanks to the constant copying required by the Internet, and the fair use which protects that copying.

Topics: Government US, Enterprise Software, Government, Hardware, Servers, Software

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11 comments
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  • Don't discount the power of bribery

    The amount of money and influence poured into Congressional coffers by the media cartel is huge. Add to that the fact that both elected officials and bureaucrats suffer from "star worship" as the general populace. Just look at the Hilary and Obama campaigns: cozying up to Hollywood stars is a major activity by these people. You don't think that they won't sell the common Joe down the river just to party with Elton John or Jennifer Aniston? Think again.

    On the bright side, the federal government has a long history of ignoring international treaties and conventions that it doesn't care for. Protests from foreign governments to the Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury, Justice, they all go into the same wastebasket as the meaningless resolutions from the UN. Even though GWB has been the epitome of indifference to international law, I don't expect his successor to be much more cooperative, it's really ingrained in the rank-and-file bureaucracy as well.
    terry flores
    • Can't let your sham go unresponded to...

      "Protests from foreign governments to the Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury, Justice, they all go into the same wastebasket as the meaningless resolutions from the UN. Even though GWB has been the epitome of indifference to international law..."

      1. About those "meaningless UN resolutions"...they are only meaningless when they are unenforced. GWB merely enforced (at long last) the U.N. resolutions passed regarding Saddam's regime and its use of Iraqi resources and treatment of the Iraqi people, not to mention WMDs. (Which are still unaccounted for, btw....)

      2. GWB is the "...epitome of indifference to international law..."??? As noted above, he enforced U.N. resolutions that the useless U.N. had no will to do so. And how about we ask why noone else would? I think the "Food for Oil" scandal gave us the answer. Funny thing - it turns out the U.S. wasn't the one with its fingers in the oil money!

      You "hate W at all costs, regardless of the rationality of it" people are a real farce. Try again, bud.
      Techboy_z
      • That's some interesting interpretations thar.

        Last I checked, the UN resolutions were regarding chemical and biological weapons which, despite the protestations, there was no evidence of when Iraq was invaded.

        Why don't you bring up those UN resolutions then explain how they were not enforced?

        All I see is Bush et al (let's face it, he really is just a puppet) ignoring the Geneva Convention and failing to address the ongoing problem of Afghanistan (which Cheney et al created in the first place when Reagan was the puppet) because Iraq's just a lot more profitable.

        In the meantime, if fair use dies it'll be the MPAA and RIAA's lobbying, regardless of who's in the Whitehouse at the time. There's already a number of media handling companies trying to push through a change to copyright interpretation so that the old automatic copyright once inherent to all created works will be severely weakened. The intent of this will be that large corporations which can afford to register copyright will be able to take 'orphaned works' without making any real effort to find the original creator and use them for free without paying the creator a penny.
        odubtaig
        • Re: That's some interesting interpretations thar.

          [i]There's already a number of media handling companies trying to push through a change to copyright interpretation so that the old automatic copyright once inherent to all created works will be severely weakened. [/i]

          The "old, automatic copyright" is not as old as I am, so choose yer words more carefully.

          Before 1976 all copyrights had to be registered. The change was made to comply with the Berne Convention. To go back now to pre-1976 would put the US out of compliance.

          I wonder if they want to go back to pre-1976 term lengths? Silly me.







          :)
          none none
          • I'll grant you.

            That's three years before I was born :o
            odubtaig
  • RE: Whispers will not kill fair use

    Unfortunately, it's all about the "Golden Rules". Them who have the Gold, make the rules (Or change them) . Big $ is the scourge of this world. Greed without remorse. We are all "Global" pawns, in the Big Chess Game of Greed.
    guitronics@...
  • RE: Whispers will not kill fair use

    The best insurance the audio media folks (interpret RIAA) have is to start making and releasing quality material! Why should I buy a whole CD of chaff to get one grain of wheat?
    drjekyll
  • Amen, amen, amen, and amen

    Copyright is supposed to prevent theft and exploitation of plans and blueprints.......

    It is NOT supposed to enable greedy predatory organizations (or officials) to confiscate the works and/or property of others and hold it hostage to the world.

    Crooked politicians, lawyers (most politicians are lawyers who couldn't make an honest living), judges, and Corporations are responsible for the present sad state of affairs.

    People, being generally peaceful, have allowed the travesty to proceed. So it is, and thus it shall ever be.

    Rejoice, dear hearts.
    Ole Man
    • Response to guitronics@... (above)

      NT
      Ole Man
  • Why it won't work...

    Most people have a sense of fairness about them in most cultures and don't mind paying a reasonable price for goods and services.

    In most people's minds making several copies is considered fair and any attempt to restrict this will lead to people developing ways around restrictions or lead to them NOT buying the product or service.

    This whole attempt to work against human nature will fail, unless you are willing to (at heavy costs in unintended consequences) hang people by their thumbs to force compliance and it will fail as soon as they figure out another way to circumvent the restrictions.
    mikifinaz1@...
  • RE: Whispers will not kill fair use

    Every movie that I buy, yes buy, on DVD I make a copy of and put the original away. I have always done this and always will. I feel that if I purchase a movie, I own that copy and should be able to make a copy of it for everyday use. Why is it ok to record a movie shown on cable to watch later but not ok to copy a movie on DVD? I purchased both and I'm only making a copy for my own personal use. Fair use will stay alive and well because I'm sure that I'm part of the majority.
    dennyc5@...