Various bits of flotsam that washed up on our computers, before we moved to a better blog system in November 2004. Now a repository for YouTube videos and testing new tools. Go to for more recent content.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Fair use

Bottom line, copyright laws in the U.S. are in desperate need for revision. Can Disney lose it's work to the public domain already? And I like this quote from the Wired article, "risk-averse [media] executives questioned artists' rights to use other people's materials". I'm with the Honorable Mr. Guthrie on this..

According to various Internet sources, including the website of the Museum of Musical Instruments in Santa Cruz, California, Guthrie allegedly wrote, "This song is copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do.

Wired News: JibJabbing for Artists' Rights:
Ludlow Music, which owns Guthrie's copyright to the song, threatened to sue JibJab Media, which created the animation. But attorneys for JibJab struck first, filing a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Northern California that asks a judge to declare that This Land does not violate copyright.

It's a clear example of a legal concept called fair use, say the lawyers for JibJab and advocates of liberal copyright laws. If JibJab wins, the case could embolden artists to fend off copyright holders' aggressive lawyers, who increasingly view digital distribution as a threat.

"This is an important case to set the tone for artists and authors who want to make use of famous works," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing JibJab.

JibJab and the EFF say JibJab did not infringe anybody's copyright because of the American doctrine of fair use, which tries to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public interest in distributing ideas and allowing others to build on them. In general, an artist or writer can copy excerpts from the works of others for the purposes of education, criticism, research or news reporting.

Von Lohmann said the concept of fair use became somewhat constricted with the advent of broadcast media, because risk-averse executives questioned artists' rights to use other people's materials. So the rise of the modern industry "artificially constrained fair use," he said. Now, with the Web and the Internet, artists don't have to go through media executives to reach tens of millions of people, giving them the freedom to "insist on their full measure of fair-use rights."


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