Tag Archives: news for nerds

As Seen on Slashdot, 2.

Slashdot (News for Nerds) has an article pointing towards another article (don’t you love the day and age of the news blog?) about “Fair Use of commercial video and music as raw material for new creations.

I havn’t read “TFA”(The F*cking Article, for those who don’t read slashdot in their spare time) I have gone and read TFA, and it’s … ok.¬† The best part of the article¬† may (like slashdot) be in the comments, some of which are very well written and communicated, bringing up interesting issues.

Reading through the comments at slashdot I did find one particular gem – an explanation by the user Curunir that is a great example of what “copyright” actually is, and who/what it is meant to protect. Comment below, because I felt like sharing.

“One thing I found interesting about the article is that the entertainment lawyer makes one good point while trying to make a point that is almost the opposite.

From the article:

But, as a technical legal matter, fair use is not a “right,” a misconception and misstatement frequently made these days.

While his point is that fair use is more of a privilege than a right, I think there’s a much different interpretation of what he’s saying that is important to consider.

He’s absolutely correct that fair use isn’t a right, it’s an exception. But it’s an exception to the rights of the copyright holder. And this distinction is important because it underscores how entertainment companies misrepresent copyright. Rather than copyright defining the few excepted uses allowed to people/entities who don’t hold the copyright, it actually defines the few rights granted exclusively to the copyright holder.

And this is an important observation about the intent of copyright. Namely, that anything not explicitly granted to the copyright holder is permissible rather than forbidden. The big content producers would like copyright to be a limited set of things that we (those not producing the content) are allowed to do with their content, which they believe they own. But when defending our rights, it’s important to remember that copyright is actually a limited set of things that we’re not allowed to do and that content cannot be owned, only protected. And this is the principle that should be applied whenever something falls outside of what is explicitly stated in the Copyright Act…that everything not covered is allowed rather than forbidden.”