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July 14, 2004
IP as "Property": Point/Counterpoint
Larry Lessig today brings us a little variety in perspective,
: a Hollywood publication -- Variety, no less -- explaining the difference between stealing copyrighted material and making fair use of it:
If Greenwald's use of Fox's content is "fair use" -- as we believe it plainly is -- then it is no more "stealing" than walking across a sidewalk in front of a neighbor's home is trespassing on the neighbor's property.
Copyright is property, but like all property, the rights it grants are limited. "Fair use" is one such limit, constitutionally compelled, giving critics such as Greenwald the right to use a limited amount of copyrighted material without asking permission first.
Democracy depends upon such criticism -- especially as the owners of our culture become fewer in number, and the power they exercise, because of media concentration, increases.
Jason Schultz, meanwhile, engages in a more familiar battle-of-metaphors with Robert Berman, executive vice president of Acacia -- the company whose web streaming patent EFF has targeted for busting:
"Property rights are as important as the right to free speech," Berman told AVNOnline.com July 6. "For example, if someone broke into your garage and stole your SUV, and put a speaker on the top, and was driving around the neighborhood making some political statement, trying to get your SUV back wouldn't be trying to stifle free speech, it would be you trying to get your property back. If somebody is using your property, you have a right to stop them or receive a license or receive royalties."
That, said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz, is "possibly the most twisted and contorted analogy I have ever heard," saying it shows Acacia and similar companies -- other EFF frivolous patent candidates include Clear Channel, Nintendo, Ideaflood, Firepond, and Acceris -- conflate physical property with dreams of intellectual property.
"There's no question now that an SUV in your garage is something you own. But here there's a real question as to whether Acacia actually invented anything new or simply is claiming monopoly on technology that millions of people use every day to express themselves," Schultz told AVNOnline.com. ..."[Acacia] doesn't want to own just the SUV, [they] want to own every single automobile and stereo system in the world, to use [their] contorted analogy."
| Category: IP Abuse
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