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The Courts Music

Lawrence Lessig Wins Fair Use Case 89

just_another_sean writes "An Australian record label that threatened to sue one of the world's most famous copyright attorneys for infringement has reached a settlement with him. The settlement includes an admission that Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor, had the right to use a song by the band Phoenix. From the article: 'In a statement, Liberation Music admitted Lessig's use of the song was protected by fair use — a legal doctrine that allows copyrighted material to be used for education, satire and a few other exceptions. Liberation Music says it will also pay Lessig for the harm it caused. The amount is confidential under the terms of the agreement, but it will be dedicated to supporting work by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil rights group, to work on causes that were important to Lessig's friend Aaron Swartz, a technologist and activist who committed suicide last year.'"
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Lawrence Lessig Wins Fair Use Case

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @05:52AM (#46366069)

    For instance, transcoding a CD to MP3 is not legal in AU.
    Yes it is - format shifting was specifically permitted in the amendments made in 2006 [wikipedia.org], except where DRM or other technological protection measures are in place. Ripping a CD is ok, ripping a DVD is not ok.

  • Settlements (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @09:29AM (#46366725)

    Quote: "Settlements do not set a precedent. Or not of the legal variety, so far as I understand it. "
    That's right. In a U.S. district court decision can be used by another judge but they aren't binding. The judge can ignore it, claim it's irrelevant for some reason, or disagree with it. District court judges are equal. One can't boss another, even in the same district.
    The decision of an appeals court, however, is binding on all judges in that district. District court decisions must follow it, although an aggressive judge can find a reason it doesn't apply to the specifics of his case. Appeals courts are higher and can dictate to their district's judges.
    At times, appeals courts in different districts will interpret the law differently. Since there's only one federal legal system, it can't tolerate significant differences in the law between districts. It's embarrassing and messy when something that legal in the Ninth Circuit is illegal in the Second. As a result, a case in which the two conflict will need to be fast-tracked for the U.S. Supreme Court, since only it can decide.
    While having all these ambiguities can make life messy for everyone involved, it does give our courts the opportunity to disagree long enough for a situation to sort itself out and most of the complications of deciding one way or the other revealed. When there's a conflict in how courts are interpreting the law, Congress can also alter it to settle the dispute one way or the other.

  • by suutar ( 1860506 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @10:56AM (#46367377)
    Oh, you wouldn't get busted for the format shift. You'd get busted for circumventing the DRM, which is itself illegal. Note that the permission to format shift is not described as a 'right', either in the post you're responding to or in the linked article section; it is described as an exception to existing law. Similarly, "fair use" is not described as a right in US law; it is an affirmative defense. You have to show that what you're doing is fair use, and if you succeed they get no damages. And similarly, you still can't circumvent the DRM to do so.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.