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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 jargonburn ( 1950578 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @04:25AM (#46365853)
    Settlements do not set a precedent. Or not of the legal variety, so far as I understand it. But actually having them agree to *admit* that his use qualified as Fair Use is pretty significant. Usually civil settlements avoid admitting anything about the validity of whatever claim was settled. Such an admission could serve as a basis for additional pressure on them from others who use music in any related circumstance. Of course, I'm not a lawyer and assert that anything I say on the matter is merely half-assed guessing based on what little common sense I've accrued over the years.
  • by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @04:51AM (#46365921)

    I congratulate Mr. Lessig on his victory. This current trend of copyright possessors to lock up humanity's legacy for decades or more has to be stopped. In essence they are given to legal ability to restrict what a person can hear and see for up to a century or more. That is an awesome power that they don't seem to have the ability to weild wisely.

  • by DeSigna ( 522207 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @05:34AM (#46366019)

    Australian labels are generally allied under the ARIA organisation, which has cordial relations with the RIAA. They're closely aligned in intent.

    The other interesting thing is, Australian copyright law is much stricter about "fair dealing" (our version of the US' "Fair Use" clause), with exemptions only for very specific use cases. For instance, transcoding a CD to MP3 is not legal in AU. Nor would be using a jingle in a powerpoint for a highschool project, unless the jingle itself was the object of study. ARIA has said they will not sue for personal use such as this, which was taken as justification for not building in additional consumer protections and fair deal exclusions during the most recent revision of AU copyright law.

    It's fortunate that this issue occurred and the case was tried in US jurisdiction.

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