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Fair Use Generates $4.7 Trillion For US Economy 160

Posted by kdawson
from the you-say-pirate-we-say-patriot dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Hill spotlights a study released by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which concludes that companies relying on fair use generate $4.7 trillion in revenue to the US economy every year. The report claims that fair use — an exception to the copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted materials — is crucial to innovation. It adds that employment in fair use industries grew from 16.9 million in 2002 to 17.5 million in 2007 and one out of eight US workers is employed by a company benefiting from protections provided by fair use (PDF). Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) says the reasonable fair use of content needs to be preserved; otherwise, content owners will control access to movies, music, and art that will no longer be available for schools, research, or web browsing. Lofgren tied the copyright issue with the question of net neutrality. Without net neutrality 'content owners will completely control and lock down content. We're going to be sorry characters when we actually don't see fair use rights on the Web,' says Lofgren. 'If we allow our freedom to be taken for commercial purposes, we will have some explaining to do to our founding fathers and those who died for our freedom.'"
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Fair Use Generates $4.7 Trillion For US Economy

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:08AM (#32012522) Journal

    Fair Use Generates $4.7 Trillion For US Economy

    Wrong, from the article

    Companies that rely on fair use generate $4.7 trillion in revenue, according to a study released today by the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

    See the difference? Fair use generates a third of our GDP? Please, I'm not stupid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elwinc (663074)
      You beat me to it.

      I will point out that the $4.7 trillion figure sounds as exaggerated as the loss numbers claimed the RIAA.

      Exaggerate? I don't know the meaning of the word!

      • by infalliable (1239578) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:29AM (#32012724)

        It is exaggerated and as all "effect on the economy" estimations, it is wildly dependent on the assumptions. But it uses a methodology similar to what is known of the MPAA/RIAA methodology. The MPAA/RIAA are not real forthcoming with how they came up with their numbers though, while at least this study does list out where all the numbers came from. Even the GAO criticized the MPAA/RIAA funded studies as being entirely secretive with no way of verifying the results.

        The important take home is that IP/copyright exceptions matter a great deal to people as does what is covered by copyright/IP law

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MrNaz (730548)

          No, the important take home is that *all* political agendas need to be audited. The moment you start giving a free ride to politicians just because you agree with their cause is the moment you open the floodgates to total political anarchy.

          Not that it matters, really. The floodgates have been open for a while already.

          • Not that it matters, really. The floodgates have been open for a while already.

            The moment you start giving a free ride to apathy just because you disagree with a decision you open the floodgates to total apathy anarchy.

            Not that it matters, really. The floodgates have been open for a while already.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DelShalDar (120367)

          It's also interesting to note that these companies, at least the companies the MPAA represents, keep claiming to operate at an effective net loss. Hollywood Accounting is notorious for claiming negative net profits on films that cost tens of millions of dollars to make and distribute, and generate hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in gross income. This is why anyone wanting a percentage of a movie's income as payment go after gross profits instead of net profits, otherwise they wouldn't ever get

          • Some notable examples:

            Forrest Gump
            Babylon 5("if a set on a WB movie burns down in Botswana, they can charge it against B5's profits")
            Return of the Jedi

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:36AM (#32012794) Journal

        When dealing with an intractable foe, I see nothing wrong with adopting their tactics. RIAA exaggerates their numbers? Well then exaggerate your numbers too. RIAA sends-out talking points to Congresscritters with their "piracy costs us 5 trillion a year!" stats? Then send out YOUR talking point that says the exact opposite: "Fair use generate 5 trillion a year in revenue!"

        If the enemy cheats, then you need to cheat too, else you might as well just accept defeat. Nice guys finish last.

        • When dealing with an intractable foe, I see nothing wrong with adopting their tactics.

          You assume that all tactics favour both sides equally. The IP cartels can afford to employ professional liars, while they don't have much in the way of moral high ground. We have the moral ground, and any lies we might employ will be quickly picked apart and used to discredit us.

          Better to play to our strengths and keep it clean. Not everybody regards the world as the utterly amoral zero sum game that some economists wo

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            The IP cartels can afford to employ professional liars

            Yes, but Fair Use has God on its side.

            Or at least morality and the common good for those of you who don't believe in fairy tales.

            Copyright is murder.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by NickFortune (613926)

              Copyright is murder.

              And that, ladies and gentlemen, nicely illustrates the shortfall between a trained professional and the enthusiastic amateur.

              Thank you, your Holiness.I'd say the check is in the mail, but that would ruin your amateur standing, and thereby destroy my point :)

              • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:11PM (#32019462) Homepage Journal

                Your assumption is incorrect, Nicky. I have made my living, supported my family, as a content creator since 1989. I've been a professional since 1987, but it took me a couple of years to start making enough money to not need a day job.

                Since 2006 I only use Creative Commons licenses. It has not negatively affected the profitability of my work.

                It is possible, it just takes a little creativity. Content creators are supposed to be creative, so it works out.

                Copyright is not only murder, but it's for the weak-minded, the one-hit wonders. It became immoral the day it became legal for creators to sell or transfer their rights, and when copyright was extended past two decades. When it was extended past the natural life of the author, it became an abomination. It's for people who fear they don't have anything more to give.

      • by natehoy (1608657)

        as exaggerated as the loss numbers claimed the RIAA.

        I think that's rather the point. RIAA claims that piracy costs the US economy Dr. Evil Voice:One Million Billion Dollars, so people who depend on fair use provisions need to inflate their numbers by the same amount and claim that fair use allowances benefit the US by an equally inflated amount, so the argument balances.

        As long as both groups are using equally-inflated numbers, the effect evens out. :)

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          As long as both groups are using equally-inflated numbers, the effect evens out. :)

          So the net loss to the music industry because of piracy is about $132 then?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by natehoy (1608657)

            So the net loss to the music industry because of piracy is about[...]

            No, the net loss to the US economy is. RIAA still lost trillions in revenues, but other sectors of the economy generated trillions in revenues, so as far as the economy as a whole works out it's just about break-even.

            [...]$132 then?

            Or maybe it's a gain of $32.57, depending on whether Bob went out and bought that $164.57 in albums he's been talking about lately. I'll have to ask him later.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Also, this will be the MAFAA's point of contention. Everyman's "fair use" is the MAFIAA's "copytheft". Hence, that $$$ these companies are deriving from fair use rightfully belongs in the MAFAA's coffers.

        It's not enough to argue that fair use is important because it generates value in the economy. We have to argue that fair use is indeed fair, and that certain provisions in copyright law are unfair, ridiculous, unenforceable, and impose an undue burden on all of us.

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          Hence, that $$$ these companies are deriving from

          That argument assumes they don't make the distinction between piracy and fair use. There is a huge difference. Most pirates don't make such distinctions and assume theft is covered by fair use. It is not.

          • Hence, that $$$ these companies are deriving from

            That argument assumes they don't make the distinction between piracy and fair use. There is a huge difference. Most pirates don't make such distinctions and assume theft is covered by fair use. It is not.

            Correct. But it is also true that many takedown notices and C&D's are thrown at legitimate fair use of copyrighted material. MAFIAA lawyers don't really appear to discriminate between fair use and piracy.

      • by russotto (537200)

        I will point out that the $4.7 trillion figure sounds as exaggerated as the loss numbers claimed the RIAA.

        So? They can make up numbers, we can make up numbers. BTW, did you know a recent Oomain Society study showed that the RIAA was responsible for the torture and mutilation of up to 5000 puppies every day in 2009?

      • That's nothing. Industries that use chairs generate over $12 trillion annually! Fair Use ain't got nothing on chairs.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:19AM (#32012638) Homepage
      You're right. This kind of sloppy hyperbole is precisely HITLER STRANGLING A KITTEN worse than the numbers that the xxAA pull out of their elbows during their lobbying rounds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bunratty (545641)
      How dare you introduce facts into the discussion! I dream of a world where we have no copyright and 100% of our GDP is generated by unfettered use of content. Then get rid of patents and 200% of our GDP can be generated by freely sharing information!
    • So what? Copyright infringement costs the US economy over 9000 times that number every nanosecond.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:11AM (#32012548) Journal

    the reasonable fair use of content needs to be preserved

    Would you care to define the boundaries of fair use for me? How much a song can I use non-commercially in one instance (not like a repeated sample) without fear of repercussion or litigation from the copyright holder? Because even though some people have established "safe harbor" and guidelines, they don't seem to be officially codified yet. I uploaded some song samples on Wikipedia for my favorite albums and the rules were 10% of the length of a song or 30 seconds, whichever is shorter. And, honestly, there's no law that completely and irrefutably protects this as fair use. Then there are the people that claim a full album is a "work" and therefore 10% of that (which could be a whole song) is fair use. I don't know where it starts and stops ... with movies it seems like nothing goes while with songs it seems you can get away with a little more. So hazy and ill defined, how can you rely on something like that for income when every step is potential litigation?

    I'm all for preserving it so long as you can define what exactly it is that you are preserving.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iYk6 (1425255)

      Easier said than done. There are so many variables that affect fair use. Is it for commercial purposes or non-profit? Parody or satire? 10% of what? Like you alluded, 10% of a large work is a lot. An entire song, over a hundred pages in a large book. And what about new technologies? The nature of fair use makes it difficult to define.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thunderdanp (1481263)
      Your search for a clearly defined boundary of fair use boils down to this question; would you prefer that Congress decide the issue, or would you prefer the courts decide? I would argue that the Courts are better situated, in this context, to figure out what uses out to be protected under fair use. This is so due to the significant implications of rights gained under fair use. If you accept that copyright generally is a good, productive, successful inducement scheme to yield creative works, then taking s
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        > If you accept that copyright generally is a good, productive, successful inducement scheme to yield creative
        > works, then taking some of those rights given under copyright away shouldn't be done lightly.

        Except I don't, and shouldn't believe any such thing. Copyright is not a "good thing".

        Copyright is a necessary evil. It should be treated as such.

        This is the only way that the least destructive path towards "encouraging creativity" will occur. Otherwise, the
        copyright maximalists will run amok and try

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ThunderDan (788062)

          Copyright is a necessary evil. It should be treated as such.

          I am always curious about comments such as this. If Copyright is "evil," what makes it necessary? And if it is really necessary, is it really evil? To argue that something is a "necessary evil," to me, belies the underlying principles that makes something necessary in the first place, and is simply a semantical device to remain indignant to an idea, but still reap its benefits.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            With no copyright at all, then creative works will never be shown to the public. When the creator dies, the works can be lost, and will never be spread widely. This results in a net detriment to society. To encourage works to be released, the government decided to allow a limited monopoly (limited because there are exceptions like Fair Use) for a limited time, 14 years with one extension of another 14 years. In exchange for this monopoly, the creator agrees to release the work into the Public Domain.

            It
      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        The problem is that in order for a court to decide, someone must have standing to sue you over it. You can't just call a judge and ask them to make a ruling. And if you lose the case, you may lose your house, your retirement, and your children's college fund.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Artifakt (700173)

      Fair use is quantifiable in many cases, but it's not simple enough to always put numbers on it. It's been up to the courts to decide in many cases, because fair use also impacts cases such as libel suits.
      Someone quotes a paragraph from a one page essay by someone else. Is that fair use? We could go by some simple rule, i.e. it's 1/4 or less of the whole by word count, but why did someone quote an entire paragraph in the first place? Was that much needed to establish context? Were there severa

    • Boundaries of Fair Use? Of an idea? All undefinable. You can't draw boundaries between ideas like you can plots of land. Trying to do so has made a big mess, set off many fights. Seemingly simple, clear standards always run into special case after special case. It's like trying to define obscenity.

      Where does it end? Do musicians have to get a license to use Bo Diddley's beat, or Marshall amplifiers? George Harrison was famous for unintentionally ripping off other songs. Should he have had to surr

    • by bidule (173941)

      I uploaded some song samples on Wikipedia for my favorite albums and the rules were 10% of the length of a song or 30 seconds, whichever is shorter. And, honestly, there's no law that completely and irrefutably protects this as fair use.

      Yeah, it cannot be that simple. If I distribute the first 30 seconds and you distribute the next 30 seconds, what we would collectively distribute is not fair use. I don't think there's any solution for intangible property.

  • by ugen (93902) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:16AM (#32012612)

    The vehemently anti-copyright stance of Slashdot is, in my view, not entirely thought through. Remember - GPL (or any other software license) is a *copyright*, protected and upheld by the same laws that protect music distributors and the like. From the point of view of the law MPAA, RIAA and FSF aren't really that different (yes, some do it for money, while others for fame, "principles" and/or a bit less money). Undermining copyright protections will not be "selective", though you may wish it were. If music or movies become trivial to copy against wishes of their authors or "copyright holders", so will the software under GPL.

    Just something for you to think about.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:25AM (#32012680) Homepage
      Note that the FSF view the GPL as a necessary evil on the road to destroying all software copyrights entirely. This isn't hyperbole, or my opinion: read Stallman's book [gnu.org], particularly Chapter 4.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Also note that not all of us agree with your goal of destroying copyright. Speaking for myself, I merely want to limit it to its original 14-year-lifespan with the possibility of ONE renewal of that license by the original creator (see US Copyright Act of 1790). i.e. I think everything pre-1980 should be public domain.

        Of course Stallman and the rest always have the right to NOT copyright their creations. They have the right to release it to the public domain for the benefit of all.

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          "my" goal of destroying copyright? Sir, I shower quite regularly.
        • by orasio (188021)

          Also note that not all of us agree with your goal of destroying copyright. Speaking for myself, I merely want to limit it to its original 14-year-lifespan with the possibility of ONE renewal of that license by the original creator (see US Copyright Act of 1790). i.e. I think everything pre-1980 should be public domain.

          Of course Stallman and the rest always have the right to NOT copyright their creations. They have the right to release it to the public domain for the benefit of all.

          Duh.
          The GPL gives _users_ even more than public domain (patent protection, for instance, in the case of the GPLv3). Only distributors would benefit from public domain, and they are not the subject of free software, users are. Of course, in a world without software copyrights it would be useful to just release to the public domain, but in the world we live now, your works could be repackaged against users.

          The GPL is a fence around a copyleft playground, that even guards you against other menaces. You can hav

          • >>>it would be useful to just release to the public domain, but in the world we live now, your works could be repackaged against users.

            Why does that matter? The original code you released is still public domain. Users may choose the repackaged product, or choose your public domain product, however they desire. The novel Tom Sawyer is in the public domain, and while someone might choose to rework it and copyright it, that doesn't stop Sawyer from still being public domain.

            • by orasio (188021)

              >>>it would be useful to just release to the public domain, but in the world we live now, your works could be repackaged against users.

              Why does that matter? The original code you released is still public domain. Users may choose the repackaged product, or choose your public domain product, however they desire. The novel Tom Sawyer is in the public domain, and while someone might choose to rework it and copyright it, that doesn't stop Sawyer from still being public domain.

              Your example is right. About your question, well, you are asking why proprietary software is harmful to users. I know you, and I think you already know that, you might not agree, but you can start reading about it here anyhow: http://www.fsf.org/about// [fsf.org]

      • The day after copyright is abandoned, somebody will start selling LICENSES(*) to binary programs that currently fall under the GPL, and you can bet that they won't be providing the source code.

        (*) Even if you abandon copyright, it will still be legal to negotiate special contract terms through a license. It may be impractical for consumer-style software, but any kind of professional software will be lease-only, and under NDA that makes redistribution punishable by a massive penalty. Practically the same net

    • by ledow (319597) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:26AM (#32012700) Homepage

      I think you're missing the point. It's not about anti-copyright, because of the reasons you describe. It's about changing the goalposts all the time - fair use has been written in law for decades / centuries. Suddenly, companies want to clamp down, pretend it doesn't exist, stop you using your "fair use" rights at all, making "fair use" almost impossible through DRM schemes etc. And then copyright extension terms gets extended *again*, and *again* until nothing ever hits the public domain at all. That's *not* what copyright was about, and it's *not* the stated purpose as written in every historical law on copyright. It's supposed to be a temporary arrangement to allow the authors to prevent plagiarism for a reasonable time in order for them to capitalise on their work, and then to ultimately let the public benefit from "archaic" works.

      The message was lost. But even those people who license under the GPL release that when their copyright expires (if it *ever* does), their works may revert to the public domain (I don't know if anyone's looked at the copyright expiration situation but it's very difficult given the average development history of popular GPL software). At the rate things are going, that's going to be never.

      Most people *aren't* anti-copyright. They actually want the laws to be enforced as written and for the law to stay static. Hell, most Disney stuff, The Beatles, etc. should have expired into the public domain *YEARS* ago.

      The only significant works that I know where you can get public domain copies of them are the books on things like Project Gutenburg (and we're talking still-money-making stuff like the original Beatrix Potter illustrations and novels etc. and the rights-holders are still making a killing... you just have to be sure that you took the images from the *original* books, not from the modern (re-copyrighted) reprints). Music, software, video, where's the public domain stuff now?

      • by ugen (93902)

        new Mickey Mouse cartoons are pumped out by Disney all the time. by the same token, if we expect Mickey Mouse to "expire" a certain number of years from initial creation, so will the Linux kernel and once that happens - all of it, no matter what new development is happening, will be in public domain.

        Fine with me, I license my code under BSD license when I have to.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Uh..... NEW Mickey Mouse cartoons are copyrighted. Old cartoons (like Steamboat Willie) under the previous law would be public domain by now, and therefore you could watch it anytime you felt like it.

          Similarly Linux kernal 1 might very well be public domain by now, but the current Kernal 10 (or wherever we're at) would still be copyrighted.

        • Presumably the original Mickey Mouse character design should be in the public domain. And older Linux kernels will be eventually too.

          I'm interested - what is your problem with older versions of Linux becoming free of restrictions?

          • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:29AM (#32013374)

            Presumably the original Mickey Mouse character design should be in the public domain.

            Disney could probably claim the character name and image as trademarks, which don't expire. Even if that isn't the case now, I personally would be okay with allowing it in exchange for shorter copyright terms. You wouldn't be able to create new cartoons and market them as Mickey Mouse, but you can freely watch and share Mickey Mouse cartoons that Disney made 50 years ago.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by icebraining (1313345)

          But the FSF wish is that any code written would be open source, and in that case the differences between the GPL and the BSD licenses wouldn't exist. Imagine a world where any software buyer would demand the code to be released. The GPL would have no reason to exist.

          • by bws111 (1216812)
            What does copyright have to do with demanding the source code? Absolutely nothing. I am drinking a non-copyrighted class of Coke right now - does that somehow imply that Coke must give me the recipe? If the purpose of the GPL is to make sure that the source stays open, copyright MUST exist.
            • Wrong analogy.

              The purpose of keeping the Coke recipe closed is to prevent people from producing cokes that taste the same. If Coke could be copied without accessing the recipe (like software can), why would it matter if the recipe is open or closed? The price would drop to the floor anyway.

    • by dylan_- (1661)

      The vehemently anti-copyright stance of Slashdot is, in my view, not entirely thought through.

      Slashdot is made up of many different people, with different views and therefore doesn't have a vehemently anti-copyright stance. However I, personally, do.

      Remember - GPL (or any other software license) is a *copyright*, protected and upheld by the same laws that protect music distributors and the like.

      Yes, I know. You're not the first person to raise this, and it's a fairly obvious objection.

      Personally, as long a

      • by ugen (93902)

        My point needs no answer :) It is simply an observation.

        That said, I would like this thread to be stored for posterity. One day, when copyright is abolished and private companies are free to take all the open source code they want, put it in proprietary software and resell it - I would be interested in revisiting the topic ;) (Though none of us will probably live that long)

        • But along with the abolition of copyright, they also defend the abolition of proprietary software. And remember, it doesn't have to be government mandated; if for example companies and states start only buying OSS software (or defining that term in contracts with software development companies), proprietary software would virtually disappear.

          • by ugen (93902)

            :) And abolition of private property too. I know, I am from one of those places :) We are talking about what's possible (perhaps remotely), not communist utopias.

            • This has nothing to do with communism. Oracle, IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Google are examples of pure capitalist companies, and yet they all sell many OSS products. Don't mix the two.

              What is *not* capitalistic are the current proprietary software products. In a true capitalistic system, the price of a good is defined by supply and demand. Since an increase in supply causes the equilibrium price to decrease, what should happen when the supply is infinite, like in the case of the product "copy of Windows"? The pri

        • by dylan_- (1661)

          My point needs no answer :) It is simply an observation.

          Well, you seemed to think there was a conflict between supporting the GPL and dismissing copyright. I hope I've explained how you can be in favour of both.

          One day, when copyright is abolished and private companies are free to take all the open source code they want, put it in proprietary software and resell it - I would be interested in revisiting the topic ;)

          I would suggest that the existence of the BSDs shows that Free software can exist without the

    • by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:41AM (#32012834)

      No, it's the pro-copyright stance of many people that has not been entirely thought through. Copyrights are, at best, a necessary evil. The exist to create an incentive to create new works of art and to allow artists to work professionally on their art. They have been corrupted by corporate interests to make a perpetual money machine where new art is suppressed to keep the old art profitable. That runs exactly opposite to the reasons for copyright existing in the first place.

      I don't think the possible consequence that if you make something truly great your great-grandchildren will never have to work a day in their life is really a very good incentive. I doubt that's what motivates many, if any, artists.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        It sounds like you are pro-copyright, just not in favor of the United States current implementation of copyright.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      > The vehemently anti-copyright stance of Slashdot is, in my view, not entirely thought through.

      Mindless insults.

      The "anti-copyright stance" here at Slashdot is mostly bourne of objecting to things that have no real consequence being turned into life shattering events.

      It's more like "tort reform" for media moguls.

      The law is already badly out of balance only being recently pushed that way by corporate interests.

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:18AM (#32012632) Homepage

    the silly brainwashing about fair use pounded into students' heads by other well-meaning but misguided instructors.

    I have students afraid to read books before writing papers because if they "get an idea from a book" and use it, it's plagiarism. The entire notion of citations has gone right past them; all they know is that everything they do has to be "original."

    I routinely hear that they didn't know they could use a quote because they thought it was "stealing" and are afraid of reading relevant works first so that they don't "copy an idea" without meaning to.

    The other half of the students, steeped in remix and sampling culture and fancying themselves anti-IP warriors, routinely copy and paste without citing, then give me lectures about how IP is coming to dominate society. They intentionally refuse to cite out of a misguided sense of activism and as a result flunk assignments and even classes and are referred to disciplinary bodies where they presumably make the same arguments.

    There is little sanity and a lot of craziness coming out of the discourse on IP, and we're going to see it affect us as the current generation of students enters the workforce.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by abigsmurf (919188)
      The whole issue of fair use has been warped quite a bit by people believing they've a good knowledge of related laws because of reading tech sites and places like Digg, Reddit and Slashdot.

      Too many people look at cases that are right at the legal limit of fair use and had to be argued heavily in court and be well justified. Rather than looking that at the point where fair use ends, they see that as a new baseline and then step over the mark whilst thinking the law is on their side.
      • by russotto (537200)

        Too many people look at cases that are right at the legal limit of fair use and had to be argued heavily in court and be well justified. Rather than looking that at the point where fair use ends, they see that as a new baseline and then step over the mark whilst thinking the law is on their side.

        This implies that there IS a hard line somewhere. There isn't. The "gray area" in which decisions are mixed is the WHOLE area in which fair use might be asserted. There have been cases where copying single senten

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      IP has nothing to do with plagiarism. If I pay someone to write a paper for me, even if I get them to sign over the copyright for me, submitting it as my own work would be plagiarism. As for learning how to quote and cite work, sounds like they just need some remedial technical writing classes.

      • by aussersterne (212916) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:20AM (#32013234) Homepage

        I recently assigned a paper on the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement in a class on innovation. We had to spend two weeks more discussing it after I got not a single paper that understood the difference, despite having spent time going over the topic already.

        What surfaced in the course of our discussions after the paper was that they were relying on sources (articles, press, other instructors) that simply conflated the two, and whose language on the justifications for both was almost always couched simply in individualist ethics (protecting an implied right on the parts of other authors in terms of identity and status) rather than in rational policy calculations. In short, most of the sources they found sloppily interchanged words like plagiarism and copyright infringement and implied both to be a matter of protecting egos and personas as an individual rights issue.

        Plagiarism = Copyright Violation = Failure to be original

        It was a very tough discussion because they were very suspicious to find one single instructor (i.e. me) telling them that pure originality is not the basis of science or creative life (indeed, isn't even possible), and that plagiarism is not a legal construct and should not be imagined in that way.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I got not a single paper that understood the difference, despite having spent time going over the topic already

          That's what happens when everybody Google's the same terms and uses those same first 10 sources for their research...

        • Why doesn't academia provide clearer guidance on where citations are appropriate, and particularly the situations where they're not needed? For instance, at what point can an established author drop the citations from their speech writing, blogging, etc. such that their own expression of ideas doesn't sound like collections of "X said XY and Y said Z"?

          Just where and when are people expected to function as archaeologists of ideas, as opposed to just freely expressing themselves?

        • by lennier (44736)

          that plagiarism is not a legal construct and should not be imagined in that way.

          To a student, what is the difference between 'something that is illegal' and 'something that is a violation of school rules and will get you kicked out and disciplined'?

    • This makes me sad. I have yet to teach many undergrad courses and I am in the hard sciences but it frightens me if I am going to have to deal with people who think they can reinvent the wheel much less all of physics just to not be "thieves."
    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:56AM (#32012984) Journal

      Vice-versa I was visiting an engineering school, and the students came-up with a very ingenious idea to convert tidal waves into air motion and then electricity (via windmill action). I asked where they got the idea, and they said they saw it on the internet.

      Yes they copied the idea, but so what? That's how science advances. One guy has an idea and ~10,000 other guys work to perfect it and make it reality. As you said, as long as they cite it, I have no problem with it. "Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.

      "Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property." - Thomas Jefferson in the 1780s

      • by orasio (188021) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @09:05AM (#32013910) Homepage

        Every time I see someone from two centuries ago respond so clearly to the dumbasses that rule today, I get more convinced that the world is advancing in the wrong direction.

        • That's because we no longer educate, or encourage independent thought.
          We merely stuff information into brains and train them to be well-behaved workers.

          • I'd understand the "no longer" better if I knew of any time or culture that encouraged independent thought. As always, those people who aren't going to be restrained think for themselves, and those who can be don't.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by fandingo (1541045)

          Every time I read asinine responses about "the good old days" I get more convinced that people are deluded. Society is better in every respect than it was two hundred years ago, get over it.

          • by orasio (188021)

            I didn't say going backwards.

            In most practical respects everything is better now than before.

            The thing is that one and two hundred years back most modern societies were aiming close to where we are now. I think it's no longer aiming towards a beautiful future. Luckily, lots of people are working on that, I try to be one of them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)

      There is little sanity and a lot of craziness coming out of the discourse on X, and we're going to see it affect us

      Corrected. Replace X with "IP", "climate change", "economy", "healthcare", "drugs", "terrorism", "the tube network"...

    • by orasio (188021)

      The other half of the students, steeped in remix and sampling culture and fancying themselves anti-IP warriors, routinely copy and paste without citing, then give me lectures about how IP is coming to dominate society. They intentionally refuse to cite out of a misguided sense of activism and as a result flunk assignments and even classes and are referred to disciplinary bodies where they presumably make the same arguments.

      I don't think it's a misguided sense of activism.
      While plagiarism is almost unanimously regarded as a bad thing, what you describe is typical activism. They are pushing the boundaries, going too forward in some cases, and suffering the consequences. They might be on to something. At least, the situation can't get any worse.

    • everything we say do and think is built on the bones of our ancestors

      in that respect, if you talk about anything being original, what you really mean is it "significantly expands" upon existing work

      human culture science and thought are all branches on a tree. and like any tree, some tiny twigs turn into mighty trunks that in turn support their own twigs, while other twigs fail to thrive or break and fall off

      the tree of memes is the same as the tree of genes: constant innovation, most of it misguided, but a

  • Bad comparison (Score:2, Insightful)

    by epte (949662)

    The assumption is to compare against $0 revenue for unfair use. But isn't it myopic to rely on the term "revenue" instead of "value"? It implies a suboptimization of the entertainment industry, instead of optimizing the whole.

    Don't you have to instead compare against the value generated for society as a whole? If it generates $10 trillion in value to society for moderate unfair use, then that changes the picture a little.

    I Am Not An Economist (obviously)

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@ovi. c o m> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:51AM (#32012928) Homepage

    Originally the length of time a Copyright was valid for was 14 years. This allowed publishing and distribution in a world of Ox carts and sailing ships. One would only reason that with instant, world wide "content" distribution, it should be much less now. Say 1 or 2 years. This would be enough to extract money from the general public before the real purpose of Copyright law which is to put all creative works into the public domain would come into effect.

    Now with the post Eldridge Mickey Mouse forever life + 75 years as the term, and the whole reason of copyright law being twisted into some ownership of "content" forever which is exactly the opposite of it's intent, we need "fair use" and "net neutrality".

    What really is needed though, is to fix copyright and patent law so the time limit of protection is only a year or two, and return to it's original purpose of bringing all of these works into the public domain where they belong!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      I think 2 years is too little. That's enough for the giants to make their money, but is unfair to the small publishers and self-publishers. It effectively creates a barrier to entry into the arts.

      • by tkrotchko (124118)

        I think 14 years is probably about right.

        It seems to me that our current view of copyright is that it somehow establishes "ownership" of a work, which is an interesting idea if you think about it. Copyright should encourage a view that promotes what the name implies: it gives me exclusive copying rights to a work for a moderate time period.

        • by Yvan256 (722131)

          Well, let's take the original 14 years and be extremely generous and give them an extra 6 years, which is nearly 43% more than what copyrights intended in the first place. After all 20 years is a nice round number but it's still a lot better than the mess we're in right now.

          If you can't make profits in the first 20 years, you won't make any after that either. And just to be sure, let's make breaking DRM legal on works 20 years old or more. Let's also make it an obligation to release the DRM encryption metho

          • by mangu (126918) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @09:03AM (#32013874)

            let's make breaking DRM legal on works 20 years old or more. Let's also make it an obligation to release the DRM encryption method for those works

            Better to make DRM and copyright mutually exclusive. If you use DRM you don't need the legal protection of copyright.

            • by Yvan256 (722131)

              If you make them exclusive, you give them the best loophole they could possibly want.

              Copyright = 14 (or 20) years of protection. After that the works go into the public domain. That's the original idea of copyrights and that's a fair case of artists profits vs the public domain.

              DRM = it's illegal to break it, there's no time limit on the protection, the works never enter the public domain, you lose control over where and how you can access the works. The perfect solution for the MPAA/RIAA/etc because they g

    • I am not fine with copyrights extending past the life of the creator. I also think copyrights should belong solely to the creator(s) and be non-transferable. Big content corporations can still make money without holding the copyrights themselves.
  • The fight to truly codify what fair use is into law will be hard enough. It doesn't need the network neutrality anchor around its neck. The two are unrelated issues. It's possible to have a very non-neutral network with regard to what protocols can be used at what times and still have fair use legally protected; it's possible to have an entirely neutral network and have no legal right to fair use.
    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Right on! Lets level the transport of content out from the content itself. The two are separate issues. Your ability to legally transfer content is not restricted by the speed at which you get it. That would be like saying "all downloads under 10kb/s are legally obtained." Clearly, transfer speed does not confer a right or permission.

  • even if it generates the value mentioned, it's for apple and korea selling ipods. not for the artists.

  • As an open-mic musician who gets up and plays for fun, I'm not surprised by the dollar value for businesses affected by fair use. Karaoke, open mic, folk music, classical music, 'expired' music, etc, all ends up being used in a small or large part by a huge number of companies. Who owns the copyright for Vivaldi's orchestrations? Mozart's compositions?

    'Fair use' is what lets me get up and play 'Rare Old Times', 'Whiskey in the Jar', or 'Black Velvet Band' in front of a small crowd without worrying if A

  • That's how they'll read it. And they'll draft legislation to get it all.
  • I think it's a safe bet that Rep. Lofgren represents a Northern California district and not anything near LA...If Congress is going to be run by lobbyists, it's really time for them to do a quick check of which industries in the US actually contribute more to the GDP. It isn't the traditional media companies.

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