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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/11390/worlds-fair-use-day/

World’s Fair Use Day

January 6, 2010 by

A friend of mine is going to be a panelist at this event, World’s Fair Use Day, which

is a free, all-day celebration of the doctrine of fair use: the legal right that allows innovators and creators to make particular uses of copyrighted materials. WFUD will take place at the Newseum in Washington D.C. on Tuesday January 12, 2010, and will be organized by Public Knowledge (PK), a Washington D.C.-based non-profit, consumer-advocacy group. PK works to ensure that communications and intellectual property policies encourage creativity, further free expression and discourse and provide universal access to knowledge. As part of its campaign to return balance to copyright law, PK hopes to use WFUD to educate the public about the importance of fair use in an information society.

Enhancing the fair use exception is all to the good, but it does not go far enough. Fair use is a vague, ad hoc, utilitarian legislative exception designed to blunt some of the edges of copyright law so as to help masque its manifest injustice. An analog would be a slavery law that permitted a judge to allow the slave a month of temporary freedom if he can demonstrate to the judge that his master has been mistreating him according to a balance test in which the judge weighs four “factors” to make this determination. Or an exception to tax law that says a judge can reduce your tax rate by 1% for one year, if you can persuade him of a “hardship” as proved by weighing four legislatively enshrined “factors.” If the law is unjust and needs its edges blunted by ad hoc, unprincipled exceptions–the law itself is the problem and should be abolished.

This event is produced by the group Public Knowledge, which appears to be generally IP-skeptical (“Our first priority is promote innovation and the rights of consumers, while working to stop any bad legislation from passing that would slow technology innovation, shrink the public domain, or prevent fair use”; and they seem to be appropriately skeptical of the horrible DMCA), although their approach is somewhat ad hoc and intermixed with the standard pro-democracy (and pro-Democrat), pro-”consumer,” pro-network neutrality (see my A Libertarian Take on Net Neutrality) sentiments, and so on. Still, another ally in the fight against pattern privilege and intellectual monopoly.

{ 6 comments }

Silas Barta January 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

Yep, Stephan, that’s right. Prohibiting unauthorized reproduction of an intellectual work that only exists in the first place because of its creator is the same thing as forcing someone to obey your every order for life.

Why didn’t I see the similarity before?

NonAnitAnarchist January 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Is that really what the Pro-IP position has devolved into?

Then you’ve done well, Stephan :)

Deefburger January 6, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I just applaud the fact that the issue is even being challenged in this way. It can only lead to greater discussion and people getting a better understanding. The general populace has to actually think about this before anything will change. So, the more the merrier.

Dave January 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I went to some sort of fair use panel here in Ann Arbor last spring. The “experts” were two lawyers and two artist types (the guy from Negativland, who easily made the most sense, and some other completely unmemorable fellow who contributed little). After endless questions from people in the audience asking if the law allowed for this or that specific example, I got up and was able to suggest that the concept of intellectual property was a fraud and Richard Stallman and Austrian economics and so on and so forth. I was mostly looked at like I was from Mars, then the dimmer of the two lawyers (he actually used the non-word “copywritten” more than once and stated the First Amendment “granted” us certain rights) reiterated a bunch of semi-coherent gibberish about “what the law is.” I guess I can’t blame him; being as how he has a direct economic interest in upholding this particular fraud he has every incentive to stick his fingers in his ears and go “NA-NA-NA” at any sort of “is-ought” discussion. But I definitely came away from the whole thing with the idea that fair use is indeed nothing more than a half-assed jumble of arbitrary exceptions with little rhyme or reason to them.

D January 7, 2010 at 6:27 am

@Silas.

Perhaps between the time you took from not understanding the article, to formulating your inane comment, could have been better spent trying to fully comprehend the very basic concept of an analogy?

Silas Barta January 7, 2010 at 9:58 am

@D: I understand the concept of an analogy. Do you (or Stephan) understand the concept of “over-the-****ing top”?

Jeez. Torrenting Harry Potter does not make you Harriet Tubman.

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