Media Critic Solomon Pushes Limits of Fair-Use in New Documentary provides a good illustration of how flawed the entire notion of copyright is. This piece reports that:
The new documentary “War Made Easyâ€ isn’t just a searing critique of how administrations over the past 40 years have manipulated the media to build support for war. The 72-minute film is a media provocation itself – a challenge to federal copyright laws.
Based on a 2005 book by Bay Area media critic Norman Solomon and narrated by actor Sean Penn, roughly 90 percent of “War Made Easyâ€ consists of archival news footage from major television networks that would cost a ton of money to license – if the filmmakers had paid for all of it; they bought only about 60 percent from distributors. 0817 01
The filmmakers say they are protected under the “fair useâ€ provision of federal copyright law, a measure that is being tested in ways unimagined when it was codified 30 years ago.
The “fair use” doctrine is a safety valve in copyright law; without it, the effect of copyright would be even more draconian than it is now. But the “fair use” standard is inherently arbitrary and non-objective. It is impossible to imagine such a standard arising on the free market in a private-property order. To protect copyright the only real choice is to have a draconian, ridiculous Galambosian-style copyright system which would be obviously and manifestly incompatible with true private property rights; or to temper its effect, to blunt its edges, with arbitratry, discretionary doctrines like this. Neither option is compatible with property rights.