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October 20, 2004
Too Much, Too Little, Just Right
dons the little red hood wanders into the woods to explore the levels of copyright use/abuse in three recent opinions. Great stuff:
Too Much Copyright: "The conventional 'copyfight' wisdom is that excessive emphasis on copyright's property-like character can lead to quashing, instead of promoting, innovation and creativity.
Too much copyright (and badly understood copyright) has other pernicious effects. Today's example: the recent opinion of the Supreme Court of Arkansas in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette v. Brantley...The Arkansas Supreme Court...effectively [allowed] the newspaper (or any litigant) to hold up the civil litigation process not a copyright case, but any case on the ground that the evidence is covered by some copyright interest."
Too Little Copyright: "Sometimes, though, a little copyright goes a long way. Take Grosso v. Miramax (pdf link to the court's opinion), where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that a screenwriter who sent an unsolicited script to Miramax could sue Miramax for breach of an implied contract a state law claim after portions of the script turned up in Rounders. This is so, it turns out, even though the Ninth Circuit ruled that the screenwriter's copyright law was rightly rejected on summary judgment."
Just Right: "Once in a while, and perhaps more often than academics sometimes concede, the court gets it right. Take Compaq Computer Corp. v. Ergonome Inc. (pdf link to the opinion), in which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a jury finding of fair use....For all of you out there teaching and using ergonomic principles to stay healthy at the keyboard, fear not: copyright wont stand in your way."
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