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Is 'Fair Use' Unfair To Humans? 259

Posted by Soulskill
from the iguanas-have-had-it-too-good-for-too-long dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This article in Wired advances the idea that humans are losing the copyright battle against machines because the fair use laws are tilted against them. The writer wanted to include photos in his book, but the licensing fees were too high. The aggregators, though, like Google, are building their own content by scraping all of the photos they can find. If anyone complains, they just say, 'Fill out a DMCA form.' Can humans compete against the machines? Should humans be able to use the DMCA to avoid copyright fees too? Should web sites be able to shrug and say, 'Hey, we just scraped it?'"
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Is 'Fair Use' Unfair To Humans?

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  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:35PM (#44501497) Homepage Journal

    However, I'm not sure copyright deserves to survive in today's technological world when it does as much to deter creation and innovation as it does to foster it.

    Right, the unfairness that this guy is talking about is for the book authors, and his suggestion is less freedom for the web authors. Classic mistake.

    Copyright itself is less than 500 years old - a response to the technology of the printing press (along with some misguided economic thinking in the 1600's - Adam Smith hadn't even published yet), and given our means of mass-communication today, we've moved past it. Technology changes, and the rules of the game need to change along with it.

    For the US, it should have been obvious to the framers that taking away the property rights of (Everybody - 1) for the sake of some "rights" to imaginary property for one person was an error, but at least they had the idea that it should be only for real people and only for a short time, if it was at all. Madison massively underestimated the ways that people will twist a well-intentioned but flawed system for their own sociopathic benefit. That "limited times to an author" can be held to mean "for a corporation, a century after an author's death" should be evidence enough that the mechanism has failed.

    He rightly says:

    As a creative worker, I understood sharing with the photographers

    But from that assumption he ought to conclude that creative workers will reward other creative workers because they're decent people, not because somebody has a gun to their head forcing them to do so. The 4% of people who will freeload are not worth imposing tyranny on the other 96% so that a corporation can profit from Transformers 3 in the year 2149.

    Another gem:

    In other words, the machine isnâ(TM)t just a dumb hunk of silicon: It's a living creator.

    And I thought copyright was an out-there fantasy. The author is right to raise the issue of unfairness, but more unfairness isn't the solution.

  • Orphan works (Score:5, Informative)

    by Comboman (895500) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:31AM (#44507885)

    Yes, I get it - it just seems like it's solving a problem no one has.

    The problem that a progressively increasing copyright registration fee solves is the problem of orphan works [wikipedia.org]. Under the current system, lots of works are still covered by copyright even though the copyright owner cannot be found and thus the works cannot be licensed. A system like the GP is suggesting would force abandoned works into the public domain where they can be preserved, while still allowing actively used works to have a longer period of copyright protection.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian

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