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Rumors of a 'Whisper Campaign' Forming Against Fair Use 174

Posted by Zonk
from the not-stronger-quicker-easier-more-seductive dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica reports that a group of companies and organizations it calls 'big content' is currently engaged in a worldwide 'whisper campaign' against Fair Use. 'The counter-reformation in question takes the form of a "whispering campaign" in which ministries in different countries are told that plans to expand fair use rights might well run afoul of the Berne Convention's "three-step test." The Convention, which goes back to the late 1800s, was one of the earliest international copyright treaties and is now administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).'"
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Rumors of a 'Whisper Campaign' Forming Against Fair Use

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  • Leeches (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:44AM (#22999002)
    I wish they would just choke on their own corruption. But then the evil spirit might come out of them, and then we'd all be screwed.
  • by loimprevisto (910035) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:47AM (#22999022)
    I heard whispers of a rumor campaign- thanks, Slashdot for setting me straight!
    • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:14AM (#22999232) Journal
      The irony of completely fact-free scaremongering about a "whisper campaign seems to have been missed by all parties...
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Teflon_Jeff (1221290)
        I love how this is basically a self-sulfilling rumor.

        By mentioning it, people will talk about, which will lead to wider distribution, etc.

        Yes, I love the Irony as well.
      • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:21PM (#23002432)
        "Whisper campaigns" are only evil and underhanded and scandalous when your enemies do them. Don't you know?

        It's all part of the new moral and ethical code. It goes like this: "we get to win".

        Anything -- no matter how despicable, harmful or dishonest -- that causes "us" to win is holy and justified. Anything else fails some moral and ethical test and further demonstrates why "we get to win" -- because the other side is shown to be monstrously evil by the moral and ethical lapses that we've applied to them.

        Don't you know how important "we" are?
    • I heard whispers of a rumor campaign- thanks, Slashdot for setting me straight!

      Do not fear, we'll be considering a "stern-glare counter-offensive" sometime this week.

  • The "3 steps" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:49AM (#22999032)
    Members shall confine limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to certain special cases which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder.

    According to Wikipedia, the three steps are:

    1) certain special cases
    2) do not conflict with normal exploitation of the work
    3) do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder

    I'm no lawyer, so I don't have the background to understand that kind of gobbledygook. Maybe that's the problem. Maybe laws written for the sake of the governed should be written in a language they understand.
    • Re:The "3 steps" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:55AM (#22999088)

      Maybe laws written for the sake of the governed should be written in a language they understand.
      Are any laws truly written for the sake of the governed?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Jurily (900488)
        They were, back when the US was founded...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by reddburn (1109121)
          Such great laws our blessed, holy founders made. Laws that were fair. That treated all men as equals, like this one:

          "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons" - US Constitution, Article I, section 2

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Torvaun (1040898)
      Remember, the governed also refer to evolution as "only" a theory, and consider it on par with their own random thoughts. They will also borrow something to you instead of lending it to you, completely fail at verb conjugations, and generally maim any segment of the language they can pass through their mouth. There is no language they understand.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by siride (974284)
        What's wrong with "borrow to"? Those verbs have never had a strong fixed meaning in Germanic languages. In German they are somewhat interchangeable in certain circumstances. Same with "bring" and "take". The only ignorance is on the part of the grammar freaks who think they actually know anything about how language works.
        • I'm pretty sure I went to high school with you. Let me guess: you also think the beer is way better in Germany, freeways should have no speed limits like the autobahn, the coffee in America sucks, and we'll never understand real Gummi Bears over here, right? Oh, and you've never been wrong about anything.

          The point you're trying to make here would be all well and good if we were talking about (or, you know, speaking) German. But we're not. And while English has plenty of Germanic roots, it's also got plenty
          • by siride (974284)
            The comparison with German was only for illustrative purposes (and I'm not a German-freak, which is something you seem to have pulled out of your ass). Looking at how things work in other languages is meant to show that it is not stupidity that creates the patterns we see in English. Almost any pattern you see in English that you consider to be stupid and the product of the "lowest common denominator" is an accepted feature in the standard dialect of some other language. These things that people say _are
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Scrameustache (459504)

          What's wrong with "borrow to"? Those verbs have never had a strong fixed meaning in Germanic languages. In German they are somewhat interchangeable in certain circumstances. Same with "bring" and "take". The only ignorance is on the part of the grammar freaks who think they actually know anything about how language works.
          You sure learned him! You learned him good!
      • by MrNaz (730548) *
        As a member of "the governed" I'm so glad we have our learned (learn'd, Papi, learn'd) and wise leaders like yourself to guide us away from our own stupidity. All Hail King Torvaun and his Rule of Grammatical Correctness!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you actually take the time to read through a few legal documents, it's pretty trivial to start understanding them. It's just a matter of learning a handful of additional semantics. At worst you might have to look up the occasional Latin phrase. Dumbing them down and making them even more vague and/or verbose for the sake of the crowds that consider harlequin romances to be fine literature and can't be bothered to learn their own language past a middle school level is *not* the solution. The intent behind
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AvitarX (172628)
      These steps read fairly clear to me (though the law associated may not).

      1) not the default, this is for exceptions, (sounds redundant though).

      2) Does not cost the owner in lost sales/reduced sale price

      3) This reads as a ban on things like fanfic, where the character of the original work can be altered by additional information

      The problem with the law is that one person's interpretations of this becomes law for future reference, and it takes years of training to have a moderate understanding of that backgro
      • Re:The "3 steps" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:19AM (#22999900)

        I find your post interesting, primarily because it sounds like a reasonable interpretation of the three steps, yet it's quite different to what I'd come up with (as someone who has been actively involved in the consultations about this topic in the UK recently).

        In particular, your version implies that anything that may cost the copyright holder any income cannot be fair use. I would qualify that (and I do think the phrasing of the TRIPS three-step test supports this) by saying that normal exploitation does not mean the same as absolute control. We could argue, for example, that selling a second full-price copy of software to someone because their installation DVD got scratched would be profitable for the copyright holder if making back-ups were illegal, but I think most people would consider this excessive exploitation and the law in most jurisdictions reflects this.

        Getting back to the proposals at hand, I think if these rumours are true, the big content guys are going to have a tough time. What's happening right now is that several countries are seeing the balance of copyright tipping toward the copyright holder and finding their laws out of sync with common perceptions of what is reasonable (and done routinely, regardless of legality, by much of the population). We've had a string of investigations over the past two or three years, such as Gowers in the UK, which have proposed changes to redress the balance. The US actually has a pretty good deal with their fair use; while DRM/DMCA issues are screwing things up, the law is otherwise pretty reasonable and the four tests are fairly transparent. In most other countries, the law is not so general, and commonly expected behaviour like making back-up copies and format shifting is actually illegal in several places!

        Now, we're seeing governments actively start to implement those proposals. For example, the UK government is consulting on a proposal to legitimise format shifting, which is technically illegal at the moment even though everyone does it and media industry organisations have stated publicly that they will not chase anyone to court for doing so. (The closing date for the consultation is today, so if anyone else thinks the exception should be far more general than just format shifting, get those e-mails in to the consultation response address!)

        I suspect this is just making mountains out of mole-hills, though. The whole point of fair use is that there are plenty of things you can reasonably do with content you have legally obtained that are beneficial to you yet cause no unreasonable damage to the copyright holder, and the law should allow you to do these. No-one is talking about, for example, legalising P2P file sharing in breach of copyright or letting someone buy one legal download and then burn it to many CDCs and sell them on separately, which might actually do some real damage to the big media industries. It's hard to see how Big Media can credibly argue that the changes proposed in places like the UK are in violation of the three-step test when US fair use has allowed them since forever, the US is also a TRIPS signatory, yet until now Big Media has not attacked this position.

      • Re:The "3 steps" (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Drakantus (226374) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @11:46AM (#23001094)
        > 2) Does not cost the owner in lost sales/reduced sale price

        I hope that isn't what it means. That definition could be twisted to apply to *all* uses.

        Oh, you are using your copy of windows to reinstall on the same PC? That just cost Microsoft a sale they would have made if you instead purchased an additional copy. Oh, you are watching a DVD for the second time? That just cost Sony Pictures a sale of another DVD.

        And of course what is consider legitimate fair use now, for example watching a purchased DVD movie with a couple friends- you just cost the movie a couple sales because you let your friends view it for free!
    • Re:The "3 steps" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:45AM (#22999518)
      Maybe laws written for the sake of the governed should be written in a language they understand.

      You could make the same argument for software and users, or science and "the public" and hit the same problem - "plain English" isn't really suited to the required degree of exactness. Often what looks to be straightforward really isn't, and provides too much wiggle room for a skilled arguer. That's worse than having laws that normal people don't understand - it potentially leaves you with laws that simply aren't worth the paper they're printed on.
    • Funny, I don't recall any tests having to be passed when public fair use rights were massively cut down -- for example, as they were under the European Copyright Directive a few years back. (No fair use now in connection with any activity that can't count as non-commercial, for example.)

      It would take an ingenious lawyer to argue that any of the fair use rights that coexisted happily with the Berne Convention for most of a century, are somehow in conflict with it now if there is any movement to revive or r
      • Exactly, as prior international case law demonstrates that increasing the length of the copyright right term is legitimate under the provisions of the Berne Treaty, so to is therefore changing the length of the copyright term to ZERO legitimate. There is also precedent for differing terms for individual national rules under the Berne Convention. So this treaty is a hot air balloon just waiting to be poked by any and all national changes to copyright law.

        And this Berne Convention International Copyright Trea
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SirGarlon (845873)

      According to Wikipedia, the three steps are:
      I would point out that Wikipedia cannot really be considered a disinterested party, when it comes to the subject of copyright and fair use. The possibility of bias exists.
      • Care to tell me of any party on the WWW that is not biased in a way or another? After all, the whole damn 'net is "content" by its very nature.

        If anything, Wikipedia is at least halfway impartial, if for no other reason than anyone, no matter what bias, can correct a statement that leans too far to one side or the other.
        • by SirGarlon (845873)

          If anything, Wikipedia is at least halfway impartial, if for no other reason than anyone, no matter what bias, can correct a statement that leans too far to one side or the other.

          I fail to see how multiple biased authors will collectively produce an unbiased final product. There's certainly no reason to presume they will.

          As to your first point, naming an unbiased source, I don't claim there is one. Whether there exists an unbiased source or not, is irrelevant to the question of whether Wikipedia is

    • Maybe laws written for the sake of the governed should be written in a language they understand.
      Laws are written by lawyers so that only lawyers will understand them, that way you'll have to keep giving them money, forever.

      Now, know your place, and stop questioning your betters :-|
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:51AM (#22999046) Journal
    The rich bastards who own the corporations really rule the world, but they're working hard to quell a counter-revolution. They are NOT patriots od any country, no matter what country they lay claim to. They only care about their own personal wealth and power and the rest of us can go to hell as far as they're concerned.

    Fair use? How about "expanding" fair use in the US to what the founding fathers envisioned, and "limiting" the endless copyrights that would have appalled them?

    I have decided that I will respect no copyright older than ten years old, period. I urge everyone else to join me. I think twenty is reasonable, but damn it THIS IS WAR.

    Oh yeah- I refuse to honor ANY copyright held by a corporation. Only a writer or painter or other artist should hold a copyright. Disney can go to hell (actually he probably already did).

    Yeah, I'm in a bad mood. So sue me.

    -mcgrew

    PS- I hold copyrights. I have two ISBNs that should have already passed into the public doimain. I'm not against copyright law, only the INSANE copyright laws that are in effect now.
    • Yeah, I'm in a bad mood. So sue me.
      You can sue people in the US for being in a bad mood?
      Wouldn't that make your mood worse when you're sued?
      Also, what kind of conviction can you expect? Sentenced to be in a good mood for 5 years (2 years probation when you show good behavior)?
      • by h4rm0ny (722443)

        Happiness is mandatory. Haven't you heard?
      • by teslar (706653) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:34AM (#22999420)

        You can sue people in the US for being in a bad mood? Wouldn't that make your mood worse when you're sued?
        Ladies and gentlemen, I give you.... the recursive lawsuit!
      • Yeah, I'm in a bad mood. So sue me.

        You can sue people in the US for being in a bad mood?

        Of course! Our right to sue suffers no restrictions or abridgments. One of the few absolute rights still in full force!

        Wouldn't that make your mood worse when you're sued?

        Yes, but that doesn't excuse you from a lawsuit any more than being broke does (although it may deter anyone from *wanting* to sue). Being sued when you're broke just makes you ... more broke! Just too bad for the victim of the lawsuit, there, because you can't be held liable for the effects of your lawsuit on the defendant.

        Also, what kind of conviction can you expect? Sentenced to be in a good mood for 5 years (2 years probation when you show good behavior)?

        Whoa! Slow down, there, cowboy. You don't get to impose c

    • by kahei (466208)

      Oh yeah- I refuse to honor ANY copyright held by a corporation.

      Bless!

      Only a writer or painter or other artist should hold a copyright.

      Think about how that might work with, say, an instruction manual.

      An instruction manual with, say, 200 contributors (like the service manual for a Boeing 737).

      Each of those 200 content creators would have a share of the copyright. To print a new copy of the manual, you'd need to get permission from each of them -- or their descendants.

      Of course, you might say you were only re
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:38AM (#22999452)
        So 6 guys get together and form Little Green Man Entertainment Ltd and make a computer game and sell it. But not to *you*. No, *you* pirate it because you refuse to honor any copyright held by a corporation. To buy these guy's game would compromise your *principles*.

        This illustrates the problem with the thinking. Corporations are made of people and corporations are set up by people so the people can work together in an organized way. Ever heard of "United Artists". It's one of the big studios now, but it was set up by actors and other "artists" who got tired of the man taking their money. Now they are the man. Is it fair? Should they be able to use the money they made doing the real work to finance the work of other artists? Really what is the difference between a corporation investing in a film and an artist giving a helping hand up to the next generation of artists? Not much, in practice.
        • by pbhj (607776)

          Really what is the difference between a corporation investing in a film and an artist giving a helping hand up to the next generation of artists? Not much, in practice.

          I'm afraid you're probably being a bit naive there.

          Artists helping the next generation are doing so because they love their art. They don't gain except karma / a heightened sense of altruism.

          On the other hand a publicly owned corporation is a slave to the desires of the shareholders to make money at all/any other cost. A corporation will choose (or rewrite) a film to enable product placements or to make it the right length in commercial terms, to add in a popular character that will put bums-on-seats, etc.

        • by MacWiz (665750)
          Really what is the difference between a corporation investing in a film and an artist giving a helping hand up to the next generation of artists?

          One seeks to make a profit; the other seeks to make a difference.
      • MODS - Not Flamebait (Score:3, Interesting)

        by porcupine8 (816071)
        So now any post using sarcasm is flamebait? We're all in trouble.
        • So now any post using sarcasm is flamebait? We're all in trouble.
          I've had some nutjob arguing with me recently that a post that gets flamed is flamebait, even if there was no intention to inflame. Apparently, anything that can be construed as controversial and hence flamed is to be modded down to that fool.

          And the fools are legion.
      • by Sique (173459)

        An instruction manual with, say, 200 contributors (like the service manual for a Boeing 737).

        Each of those 200 content creators would have a share of the copyright. To print a new copy of the manual, you'd need to get permission from each of them -- or their descendants.

        That's exactly how the Berne Convention works. But luckily you can derive licenses from the natural right of the author (or Author's right) and sell those. In this case each of the 200 contributors to Boeing's service manual sells Boeing an exclusive right to print copies of the service manual, and another exclusive right to change the contents (so updated versions can be written by other authors and be printed without violating the Author's Right).

        But Boeing for instance would not be allowed to hire an au

      • by kocsonya (141716)
        > An instruction manual with, say, 200 contributors (like the service manual for a Boeing 737).
        > Each of those 200 content creators would have a share of the copyright. To print a new
        > copy of the manual, you'd need to get permission from each of them -- or their descendants.

        Not their descendants. Them. But why would you need copyright protection on the instruction manual of the 737?

        > You're saying that artists should not be able to sell their copyrights. That they
        > should only be able to mak
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        Think about how that might work with, say, an instruction manual.

        An instruction manual with, say, 200 contributors (like the service manual for a Boeing 737).


        Each contributor would hold copyright to the part he or she wrote. What's so hard about that?

        To print a new copy of the manual, you'd need to get permission from each of them

        Yes. Copyright is supposed to protect the author from the publisher, not the other way around. It is not supposed to protect the publisher from the public. Copyright is not suppose
    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:46AM (#22999534) Journal
      The problem is lobbying, or "corruption" as it is called in other parts of the world. It is almost impossible to make disappear but one can at least try to make it illegal.
      Support Lawrence Lessig's Change Congress [change-congress.org] movement.
      • by KiahZero (610862)
        There is no part of the democratic world in which legislative advocacy, in of itself, is considered corruption.

        Lawrence Lessig is a lobbyist too, you know.
        • by sm62704 (957197)
          Legislative advocacy, in of itself, is not corruption. However, when the American arm of a Japanese corporation can contribute ten million to the Demnocrat candidate and ten million to the Republican candidate, that certainly IS corruption. When a rich man from Arizona has more access to an Illinois congressman than an Illinois voter, that, too, is corrupt.

          IMO it should be illegal to contribute to more than one candidate in any given race, and illegal to contribute to a candidate you are not eligible to vot
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Firethorn (177587)
      Only a writer or painter or other artist should hold a copyright

      How would you handle group projects like a movie? I mean, at least with a band you generally have only a half dozen or so individuals and they generally hang together better than marriages. With a movie you have potentially hundreds of actors, musicians, makeup artists, scene designers, etc...

      Corporate copyright makes sense in many cases.

      only the INSANE copyright laws that are in effect now

      Actually, I think that they're mostly OK, they simply
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Quila (201335)

        Stuff still held by the orginal creater, who's a person, can still be held for life, or the 20 year deal, which ever is longer

        Even life is too long. It is supposed to be for a reasonable period in which to make a profit to encourage further writing. There's no more writing if you're dead.

        14 was the original, extendable to 28. But we live longer now so I say 20 years extendable to 40 years for everyone but lower fees for personal copyright holders. The initial 20 or any current extension is transferrable to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)
      It's hard to find sensible limits to the ideas put forwards by you, but there's one thing I think we (and a few more people here) can agree on: Copyright has gone too far.

      And thus we get people like you. People who see copyright as unfair, unbalanced, biased and unjust, and thus either ignoring it altogether or making their own rules based on their set of standards and morals.

      A law, to be upheld by the general population, has to be understandable and deemed fair. Of course you'll always have people breaking
    • you know you can bequeath those two works to the public domain with a simple letter to the copyright office, or by ordering one more printing that contains the forward that they are now granted to the public domain.
      -nB
    • "The rich bastards who own the corporations really rule the world, but they're working hard to quell a counter-revolution."

      I personally think that in most case the corporations themselves rule the world. In a lot of cases corporations aren't directly controlled by a few people - they move in a direction defined by dozens, hundreds, or thousands of individuals. Unlike a nation, which is generally dedicated at least nominally to serving people, a corporation is dedicated to serving itself.

      I think that corpo
    • by LihTox (754597)
      I have two ISBNs that should have already passed into the public domain.

      What do you mean, "should have"? You can release material into the public domain yourself, you don't have to wait for Congress to do it for you.
    • by westlake (615356)
      The rich bastards who own the corporations really rule the world, but they're working hard to quell a counter-revolution.

      What counter-revolution?

      You look at countries like China and what you see is a second capitalist revolution - a world recast in the mold of entrepreneurs like Bill Gates.

      60% of Microsoft's revenues come from outside the U.S. and it is seeing 30% growth in emergent markets like China - each quarter.

      Wunderman scoops 10 Dubai Lynx awards at 1st Dubai Advertising Festival [albawaba.com] [Dubai based a

    • "PS- I hold copyrights. I have two ISBNs that should have already passed into the public doimain. I'm not against copyright law, only the INSANE copyright laws that are in effect now."

      Right, I've got to call "ignorant bullshit" on this one...

      There is so much wrong with this statement, it isn't funny:

      1. The copyright holder can place something they own into the public domain at any time. So, if you own a copyright, the only thing keeping it out of the public domain is you.

      2. I know what an ISBN (http://en.w

  • A counter-reformation [wikipedia.org] would surely be an attempt to reform, improve and streamline the existing establishment -- partly in response to defections in favor of newer and more effective establishments.

    What we have here seems to be more of an anti-reformation. Unlike the actual counter-reformation it seems unlikely to lead to any advances in painting, music or astronomy. Quite the reverse really.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      I'm all for this... As long as like the late 1800's Copyright has a limited term of 7 years.
  • Oh really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:09AM (#22999208) Homepage
    "Ars Technica reports that a group of companies and organizations it calls 'big content' is CONSTANTLY engaged in a worldwide 'whisper campaign' against Fair Use.

    Fixed that for ya. And it does not need to be a "group" to be doing that. They do it anyway as this is what their interests call for.

  • Oh the horror, the evil illuminati and the tri-lateral commission are going to take away Fair Use all over the world! This is all America's Fault!!

    Oh wait... just one tiny little problem with the usual Slashdot conspiracy theory. There is exactly 1 country in the world that has fair use: The US. In the history of the world there has been exactly 1 country that has EVER recognized fair use: The US. No country except for the US has ever recognized fair use as a legal theory. In some common-law countries
    • Put it another way: Fair Use is already in the world, but the Network grabbed it before the Sons of Atlantis or the Discordians could. Now it's so deep in the power structure that it's making the Gnomes of Zurich very, very nervous. So now it looks like they are going to play the "whispering campaign" card to destroy, as Fair Use is immune to normal attacks to destroy.

      It is in the Network's (and to a lesser degree, the Discordians' and the Sons of Atlantis') interests to keep Fair Use in play, because it is
    • by dev_eddie (827800) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:24AM (#22999942)
      In Spain we have "Private Copy Right" granted by Constitution that forbids Penal cases against copyright infringement (in absence of lucre). Discovery causes can't be Civil, so copyright infringement is not illegal. That is not inflexible or narrower than the "fair use" doctrine. The war over the lucre definition is over and we won.
    • by Tom (822) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:32AM (#23000058) Homepage Journal

      there has been exactly 1 country that has EVER recognized fair use: The US. No country except for the US has ever recognized fair use as a legal theory.
      You have no idea what you're talking about, do you?

      Other countries don't use the same term, and the exceptions aren't all the same, but "fair use" is a very common concept.

      Few countries make the use of snippets for review, criticism or quotation illegal, for example. The details vary, but the basic principles are pretty global.

      Some countries go considerably further than the US. Over here in Germany, for example, I can legally copy a CD for a friend. That's called the "Privatkopie" ("private copy") and is the law's acceptance that people will do these kinds of things anyway, so within some limits (very few copies, and for personal friends only), it's allowed. (and yes, it's under attack from the copyright lobby)

      Copyright laws are slightly different in every country, and with so much variety, every claim that something is a world-only is almost guaranteed to be a lie.
      • Some countries go considerably further than the US.
        BLASPHEMY! ;-)
      • I have much more idea about what I'm talking about than what you do, and you just proved my point to. Germany is a common law country with a highly detailed civil code in place to cover a very narrow and exact situation that you just defined. Another amusing feature that you didn't mention is that the EXACT system you just talked about also charges taxes on all copying media so that CD you gave to your friend involved a payment to the German media industry (see Wikipedia for more [wikipedia.org]). So your magical Wunder
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Tom (822)

          Germany is a common law country with a highly detailed civil code in place to cover a very narrow and exact situation that you just defined.

          I don't only live in Germany, my job also means I have a bit of knowledge of the court system and I make regular appearances in court as well. While Germany is a common law country, a lot of the actual meaning of the law is subject to case law. The main difference is that prior cases aren't binding, but they do serve as guidelines all the time, and decisions of the high courts (there are a few, for different areas of the law) carry almost the same weight as laws.

          also charges taxes on all copying media

          That's correct, but besides the point. Ther

    • Oh the horror, the evil illuminati and the tri-lateral commission are going to take away Fair Use all over the world! This is all America's Fault!!

      Oh wait... just one tiny little problem with the usual Slashdot conspiracy theory. There is exactly 1 country in the world that has fair use: The US. In the history of the world there has been exactly 1 country that has EVER recognized fair use: The US. No country except for the US has ever recognized fair use as a legal theory. In some common-law countries like the UK and Australia there is a parallel concept of "fair dealing", but it tends to be given a much narrower interpretation than the broad equitable doctrine of Fair Use that is employed in the US. When it comes to common law countries like those in the EU, there are enumerated lists of exceptions from copyright protection that are extremely strict and inflexible compared to Fair Use rights. This is how it has been for well over 100 years, but it's fun to see Slashdot promote FUD and ignorance instead of any type of rational discussion (again).

      In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include [wikipedia.org]:

      1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
      2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
      3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relat

  • by monxrtr (1105563) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:51AM (#22999574)
    See the recent Texas death penalty case and international law. Once the Copyright Laws are ruled unconstitutional on length of term and excessive fine grounds, the Berne Convention too will be in the target cross-hairs. And once the US is folded out of Berne, separate international movements will do vast damage to world-wide attempts at standards and control.

    They already can't enforce the laws on the books, because they are PR disasters, that only constantly serve to diminish the credibility of the law. The big media content owners are starting to run scared, as well they should be. Look at the comments regarding yesterday's study that 95% of 18-24 year olds copy content illegally. Nothing but solid contempt for these insane copyright laws. The tide is shifting, and politicians voting to screw consumers will be assuming ever higher political liability for doing so.

    This is all good. These people are the evil cousins to the ultimate evil international bankers without any country loyalty or concern for consumers who confiscated real money world-wide and instituted fiat paper money debt control. They finance wars, they could care less who is at war as long as there is war somewhere from which to profit through the issuance of debt and confiscation through bankruptcy. And ultimately, the war on copyright is just the warm up battle to the war on fiat paper money. They are just printing control and printing taxation at will, at the expense of disparate international citizens. It's nothing put pure theft of the wealth which is the property of culture, of all, just like free speech and free trade.

    Perhaps other countries will now better understand American disdain for the United Nations when they see other international institutions like the IMF, WB, and now the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). They are there to finance themselves by legalized theft against your rights.
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:15AM (#22999866) Homepage Journal
    It's lobbying.

    Politics does not select for politicians who are deep thinkers -- although possibly there may be a few odd examples. Politics favors the gregarious, the people pleasers, the networkers.

    So, suppose you are such a person, who makes his way in the world by being popular. You aren't stupid by any means, and let's stipulate for the purposes of argument you are not corrupt, but well intentioned. Still it's a fair bet you probably aren't the kind of person who likes to hike to a lonely spot in the mountains, to spend a pleasant afternoon contemplating the role of the unrestricted flow of information in maintaining a vibrant and free society.

    But this is exactly the most important kind of issue that comes in front of you as an elected official. And in all probably, you don't have a deep reservoir of accumulated thought to draw upon when this comes up. You have deeply held convictions but you haven't worked out how they all apply in cases like these.

    So, being a gregarious person, you draw upon the thoughts of others who had the foresight to propose the connections in advance. Furthermore, being a people pleaser by nature, your first inclination when they did this was to receive their argument favorably. You certainly did not tear it down and throw it in their face as a load of rubbish.

    Having received the argument favorably, and since the argument connects the question to some of your values, like "private enterprise", you're primed to take it up as your own.

    That's why buying access is such a huge win for special interests and a huge loss for democracy. It's not that there isn't corruption, of course there is. But a politician doesn't have to be personally corrupt for you to corrupt his opinions.

    It's an odd thing, but being the kind of person who likes to spend quiet afternoons contemplating big questions, I have found vigorous "men of action" remarkably easy to steer. They're always up to do something and they think of themselves as "far sighted", but that usually means they don't have a clear view of how the ground in front of their feet is connected to the goals they see on the horizon. And they tend to be completely unaware that they are acting without a road map, so when you slip one under their nose, they internalize it. You can see that this is just one of many possible alternatives, but they have a way of seeing it as the one true path that they have been following all along.
    • Brilliant post.

      I do think, however, that the personality you describe by definition is one of stupidity.
      • by hey! (33014)
        It's a different kind of intelligence (or looked at from the other end, a different form of stupidity).

        I can walk into a room of people who aren't sure of some issue, and if its an issue that I know something about I can probably convince a lot of them, probably even a majority, to view the issue my way.

        On the other hand, I'd fail utterly in convincing them to trust me to handle issues like that on their behalf -- in other words to vote for me. And it would boil down to things that I said and did which wou
    • You live on the planet earth, right? Where is your vibrant and free society? The USA, UK, Australia, France, Germany? Hah. Try smoking a joint on a public street and see how long you remain vibrant and free. Or, if smoking dope isn't your thing, try, as a female, taking your shirt off in public (not at the beach). And see how long you remain vibrant and free. Minutes. Maybe an hour at best. Then, you're on your way to the hoosegow.

      Go to a McDonald's at lunch time and look for your vibrant and free
  • it is interesting to see ministers and legal wranglers reaching back this far in copyright history for a sense of stability and coherence in copyright law. it shows desperation, confusion, fear. however, what the internet has done to copyright is yet a more fundamental reordering of the landscape than even law going back to the 1800s

    it is simply that at one time, the means of production and distribution of media was confined to a few players. this meant that agreeing on rules, and compliance and enforcement was relatively simple and straightforward. as recently as the 1980s, if someone was counterfeiting vhs tapes, for example, the operation was ponderous, slow, required a heavy initial investment, and was relatively easy to trace and shut down those few random players. this limited piracy to a few hardy organizations

    but today, the power of global distribution that was once confined to the likes of bertelsman and sony is in the hands of every college kid. enforcement? ha! compliance and agreement on the rules? ha!

    the assumptions about distribution that created copyright law as we know it is so fundamentally altered as to be so alien a landscape that copyright law is simply completely and utterly destroyed. for those of you doubting this, you are simply in denial. you can't make a law that is impossible to enforce. well, you can, legislative bodies do it every day. but it simply doesn't mean anything, it's hollow, it's a joke. that's what our copyright law has become

    the last ten years has simply been a slow process of awakening the world to this fact. the next ten years will simply be more awakening to this fact, everyone getting on the same page: copyright law is broken. utterly

    this is what they mean by disruptive technology. the internet destroyed copyright law by making every single individual in 2000 have the same distribution power that was confined in 1990 to sony and bertelsman

    obviously, rights and morality and ownership in the realm of media are issues that are still valid. these issues still need to be addressed legally. but the legal and compliance framework around these issues will need to be built almost from scratch, and copyright law as we know it must be thrown out almost in its entirety: all the basic assumptions it is founded upon are completely reordered

    personally, i think some form of copyleft a la "free" software will be the basis for our new legal framework about all media and distribution: music, books, movies, etc
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Then I have a question for you.

      I think we both can agree that the reason for copyright is to encourage creators to create. There will always be creators who want no money for their works, but we would lose out on some potentially powerful creations of content.

      What would you propose to do to "give thanks" to the creators?
      • however, you are making some assumptions

        #1: that current copyright law rewards content creators. it actually rewards content distributors

        #2: that current copyright law is the maximum benefit for creators in terms of reward and protection. no copyright law at all provides equal benefit

        how the heck can i think that?

        say i give away a copyrighted song for free on the internet. under the old way of understanding, this is hurting the content creator. in actuality, this is giving the content creator free publicity
  • 3 Tests (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darkshadow (102598)
    What kind of a test is "certain special cases"?
    • by argent (18001)
      I believe the intent of this "test" is that it means it's not a blanket exception, but is one applied on a case-by-case basis.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:53AM (#23000356) Journal
    ... when fair use is outlawed then the only use will be unfair use. Otherwise why publish?
  • ...a game of Chinese Whispers instead! Next thing you know "Fair Use" will be said in the same sentence as "Supporting Organised Crime" or "Supporting Terrorists". Probably by the RIAA or the MPAA next time they go to Congress or a Court Case..
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:27PM (#23001620)
    I think the reference was supposed to go to the movement within the Roman Catholic church at the end of the 30 years war, around 1650, when they tried to counter the protestant movement. While I can see that the big studios try to counter any development in fair use (or any kind of movement that limits their power), what they do is closer to the reaction of the Hussite Wars and the Great Schism. No, even then the RC church reformed. Maybe it's closer to the Schism between the RC church and the Eastern Orthodox church.

    What I mean is that the counter-reformation led to change within the Roman Catholic church. It led to less greed (or at least less display thereof), less concern with "worldly" matters and a refocus on their original purpose, the leading of a spiritual group.

    I doubt this "counter-reformation" in the music biz will lead to a refocus on the original intent of the copyright.
  • I think it's time for a modern "Boston Tea Party". Nerds of the world, we must unite!! We must bring the Internet tumbling down. We have seen how businesses will drop whatever they feel is not a reliable revenue generator. Perhaps a coordinated movement that messes with their online business model will keep them away.

    Sorry, have to go now. There are some nice men in black suits wearing dark glasses here for me.

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