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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 intermodal (534361) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:21PM (#44501293) Homepage Journal

    In today's age of machines that exist almost exclusively to copy and fiddle about with data, the concept of copyright is quaint and outdated. Gone are the obstacles to distribution and duplication that existed in days gone by, and as the past decade or two has shown us, dropping copyright as a concept will do nothing to deter people from creating new works, only remove the incentive for people to create static media for a living.

    I fully recognize the benefits that copyrighted works have provided for us in the past, and the incentive it provides for new creation. 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.

  • by JMJimmy (2036122) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:23PM (#44501341)

    This and it's backwards - humans are losing out to copyright. Copyright is the entirety of the problem not fair use.

    Yes I believe people should be able to recoup their invested time/money and some form of copy protection is needed for that but the current laws are doing it to the detriment of society.

  • bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iggymanz (596061) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:26PM (#44501377)

    tough talk is easy.

    reality is you'd need to be paying lawyer $275 or more an hour for about 700 to 1500 hours plus expenses. who here has that kind of income to gamble? I do not.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:58PM (#44501737) Homepage

    The author of TFA is deeply confused - she can't distinguish between pictures used as content (what she wanted to to, and not fair use), and pictures used as links to content (a murky grey area under fair use). Because of her inability to distinguish the difference, she feels unfairly treated.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:58PM (#44501739) Journal

    This is it, in a nutshell.

    Copyright as it is wielded today for *most* uses is a net loss to society. Look at book copyright, movie copyright, music copyright. The only thing that has come out of copyright from them is recycling of old media, nothing creative, nothing to promote progress of the arts, and no benefit to society. We've actually lost a ton of history due to excessive copyright - and those with a vested interest would love to keep it that way.

  • by peterwayner (266189) * <p3.wayner@org> on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:09PM (#44501865) Homepage

    While I agree that some history is locked away in books that can't be copied, I think that many, many writers and artists are only able to devote time to their work because copyright allows them to charge for access to their work. All of the new books at my store-- including plenty of non-fiction-- is protected by copyright.

    The only counter-example I can think of is the Wikipedia. While it is quite good, it has a strange reliance on copyrighted work. It requires all information to be based upon a citation to a real publication-- a publication that's usually protected by copyright.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:10PM (#44501881) Journal

    Humans don't have limited liability protection, can go to jail, can't transfer their lives to another under a different name, can't claim income through a different tax jurisdiction, and aren't immortal.

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @05:22PM (#44503329) Homepage

    Some of history WAS locked away in books that couldn't be copied, then the last copies were destroyed. Same has happened to film and audio recordings.

    That doesn't necessarily mean abolishing copyright is the right answer. It should be shortened. It could have a publish or perish clause. It could have broader exceptions. It could have realistic penalties. It might even have strings attached to assure that once expired, the work does enter the public domain with DRM stripped. It could certainly stand to be clarified soi that copyright and the DMCA can't be used to lock out 3rd party ink and toner (for example) using a ROM as a flimsy excuse.

    Do ALL of that and you leave artists still able to benefit from their work but do a lot less damage to society and culture in the process.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @04:44AM (#44507067) Journal

    This makes sense to me. According to my publisher, the vast majority of the profit from any new book is made in the first three years. There are a few outliers, but these are the ones where both the publisher and author made so much money in the first three years that they'd still have a huge incentive to bring it to market even if they lost copyright after three years. If you're still making more than a token sum on any book (or piece of music or film) after 7-10 years, it was truly exceptional and you've already raked in a huge pile of cash.

    There are some problems with this approach though, such as how do you deal with incremental changes? There are some FreeBSD source files that I've modified that still have original Berkeley copyrights going back to the early '80s. Would I need to pay several billion to copyright my changes, or would my changes be copyrighted separately and I'd only pay $1 (and would I pay $1 for FreeBSD, or $1 for each one of the several hundred source files I've modified)? If it's the latter, then it becomes very difficult for some third party to work out which parts of a file have lapsed copyright and which still have valid copyright.

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