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August 28, 2007
Fair Use "Has Gone Missing"?
Fair use hasn't gone missing. It got jumped, dragged into a dark alley and curb-stomped until it bled nearly to death. At the moment it's on life support.
I appreciate what Maura Corbett is trying to say. The excesses perpetrated against fair use are numerous and egregious. I just prefer more accurate and more colorful analogies.
The topic at hand right now is a formal complaint filed by The Computer & Communications Industry Association against several professional sports organizations and NBC/Universal, with the FTC. The complaint points out these organizations and others have used the standard copyright notices on DVDs, on sports broadcasts, and in other places not to inform but to intimidate and mislead. I'm shocked; how about you?
Why the FTC and not the FCC, which nominally has responsibility for communication rules? Well, the complaint is an allegation of deception and misleading consumers, which is more the FTC's bailiwick. FTC regulations prohibit "unfair or deceptive practices in commerce" and in the past the agency has acted against advertisers or other commercial speakers who have been found to be putting out misleading information. So it's not wholly farfetched to hope they'd act, but it certainly is a long shot.
CCIA has created a new organization called Defend Fair Use to fight "[t]hreats and exaggerations that misrepresent your rights." This complaint appears to be their first action.
Which brings us back around again to Ms. Corbett's politely worded "Perspective" piece. I can't complain about the arrival of another copyfighter, but let's call a spade a spade. When "the NFL threaten[s] the media by withholding press credentials for any organization that showed more than 45 seconds of a game" - that's not fair use gone missing. That's premeditated murder.
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