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Further assaults on "Fair Use"

Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
This is just becoming so depressing. Copyright law, once designed to balance the rights of the consumer with the rights of the content owner, a relationship further strengthened and defined by "fair use", seems to have had its principles abandoned as of late. Thanks to several content owner drafted laws in the late 90's and supported by Congress and the administration, the relationship within Copyright laws that was supposed to protect the consumer are being completely wiped out. Depressing.

NFL & TiVo Agree to Work Together to Protect Content
Has TiVo Forsaken Us?
HBO freezes fair use; plugs analog hole
HBO Copyright Protection FAQ
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
I think people watch too much TV.


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
I think people watch too much TV.


While that's your opinion, let's extend the argument to books. Once a convenient reader exists, I can easily forsee a point where new books are mainly distributed electronically. We won't get there for some time still, but I think the writing is on the wall. Do you want the publishing houses to determine for you where you can or can't read the book? If you download it to your PC, do you want them to be able to make it so that you cannot read it on another PC other than the one you downloaded it to? Do you want them to make it so that you cannot take your book with you on a portable reader, so that you may read it while travelling for instance? These uses are well within the boundaries allowed by Copyright law and fair use. Unfortunately, these abuses of copyright law are exactly the road the content providers are taking us down. It will affect all media content eventually if left unchecked, not just television.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
The problem with "fair use" is how far you take it.

It was meant to enable people to quote short passages of a copyrighted work in reviews and such but those people have started to apply it to blatant copying and distribution of complete works to other people.


42
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
If you don't like the deal that HBO is forcing on you then I would suggest that you cancel HBO. My opinion is that if if I sell something to you and the licensing agreement is that when you use my product you must wear a blue shirt and shout "Go Yankees!" then your choice is to abide by the license or not buy my product. If the electronic bookseller says that I can only use their book on one PC then my answer is, "NO thanks. I don't want your product."
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
The problem with "fair use" is how far you take it.

It was meant to enable people to quote short passages of a copyrighted work in reviews and such but those people have started to apply it to blatant copying and distribution of complete works to other people.


Fair use as defined by US courts allows for the copy of content for personal use, mainly for time shifting, space shifting, and archival purposes. The scenario you describe is copyright infringement not protected by law.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
If the electronic bookseller says that I can only use their book on one PC then my answer is, "NO thanks. I don't want your product."


However your argument falls apart when new books are only available in protected digital format. Then you may not have the luxury of turning down the product, unless you plan on never reading books again. Then we can all cry about how we stood around and let our consumer protection get savaged because we didn't have the forseight to see the problems that would arise from letting the content owners re-write copyright law.

The gist of the law has always been that once you purchase something and bring it into your home, it is yours to do with as you please as long as you are not doing anything that is unfairly damaging to the copyright holder as set out in existing law (including case law). Reading your book on multiple machines within your home in no way infringes on the rights of the copyright holder. Content providers are bound by copyright law, and though it is inconvenient for the copyright holder, these laws state how the consumers may use copyrighted materials even if it is a use not intended by the provider. The problem is that the providers are now getting politicians in their back pocket to re-write the law for them and remove the parts they find inconvenient, and to insert unreasonable "protections" for their content at the detriment to the consumer and in the face of established law.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Jason Menard:


Fair use as defined by US courts allows for the copy of content for personal use, mainly for time shifting, space shifting, and archival purposes. The scenario you describe is copyright infringement not protected by law.


in theory no, but the pirates claim they give that copy to others for safekeeping (just in case their house burns down or something) and can't be held responsible for what those others do with it.

And the very lax laws in the US aren't valid everywhere, which makes the problem worse.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
However your argument falls apart when new books are only available in protected digital format. Then you may not have the luxury of turning down the product, unless you plan on never reading books again.

There are plenty of books that I can read. The library is full of them, many with no copyright at all.

The gist of the law has always been that once you purchase something and bring it into your home, it is yours to do with as you please as long as you are not doing anything that is unfairly damaging to the copyright holder as set out in existing law (including case law).

The solution is simple. If you don't like the constraints that the seller puts on their product then don't buy it.

Content providers are bound by copyright law, and though it is inconvenient for the copyright holder, these laws state how the consumers may use copyrighted materials even if it is a use not intended by the provider.

Except you are not buying the product. You are buying a license to use the product. You must abide by the terms of that license no matter how stupid they are.
Bert Bates
author
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Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8883
    
    5
I think I have to agree with Jason on this one...

Even though as an author these new rules are, supposedly, in place to protect me, I have to say that I think not eroding "fair use" is more important.


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Joe King
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2003
Posts: 820
Originally posted by Jesse Torres:
There used to be a time when people who were sick of commercials, purchased cable television. Now the majority of cable channels show a great amount of commercials, just as regular broadcast channels.


In the UK the main satellite company (Sky) and the main commercial non-satellite TV company (ITV) both regularly break the law in terms of how long their adverts are (for example Sky will make an episode of Star Trek that is 40 mins on BBC an hour long with their adverts), but the fines set by the regulator are so low that its still worth them doing it. Increasingly I don't bother watching programmes that have large amount of adverts in them, or flick over to a music channel to watch a song or two until the adverts are finished.

Actually, thinking about it, I don't watch anywhere near as much telly now as I did a year or two ago - mainly just the news. Is it just me, or has the general quality of TV decreased in the last few years? Perhaps it hasn't - perhaps Sky have just bought all the good programmes to put on channels I can't afford!
Warren Dew
blacksmith
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Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
Jason Menard:

However your argument falls apart when new books are only available in protected digital format. Then you may not have the luxury of turning down the product, unless you plan on never reading books again.

Or, alternatively, the providers of content in protected format go bankrupt because consumers refuse to buy their products, instead sticking with providers with less onerous rules. The success of the iTunes store, compared with the failure of the subscription model that had been in place for a year or two before that, illustrates that consumers do have power here.

I do think that, as consumers, we can help this process by not only refusing to purchase products with unreasonable usage restrictions, but also paying for every copy of a product that we do buy. When I was writing shareware, piracy was a major problem; if we want people to continue to sell products that are not too restricted, we need to make sure they can make money doing so.

The problem is that the providers are now getting politicians in their back pocket to re-write the law for them and remove the parts they find inconvenient, and to insert unreasonable "protections" for their content at the detriment to the consumer and in the face of established law.

The politicians still need votes to keep their jobs. Writing a letter to one's representatives can help clarify how they get some of those votes. Contributing to the appropriate lobbying organizations might be an option, too, if one feels really strongly about it.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
You are still referring to commodities where we have a choice in whether or not to use/purchase them. Digital television avoids that argument. If you want to watch television in this country, you will have unreasonable content "protection" forced upon you. Analog television is going the way of the dinosaur and you will only be able to watch digital tv in the coming years. Further, ridiculous laws have mandated that consumer electronics manufacturers must only market equipment which recognizes a broadcast flag, transmitted with the digital content by the content providers. This broadcast flag allows the content provider to determine when, how, and where you may view the content. If they say you can't time shift it, then you're SOL. This is a gross abandonment of "fair use" and an unreasonable protection given to copyright holders that flies in the face of decades of US law.

This isn't an issue of "licensing". This is content broadcast over the public airwaves. Flip comments like "then don't watch TV" completely miss the point. The point is that the content providers are having US law re-written to pervert the copyright laws as they stand in order to maintain unreasonable control over their content at the expense of everybody else.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
This isn't an issue of "licensing". This is content broadcast over the public airwaves. Flip comments like "then don't watch TV" completely miss the point. The point is that the content providers are having US law re-written to pervert the copyright laws as they stand in order to maintain unreasonable control over their content at the expense of everybody else.


Pervert the laws? The law is whatever the law is. One could equally argue that the current copyright laws are a perversion and they need to be fixed to give more control to the copyright holder. Your argument is one of emotion and not logic.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
It looks like the entertainment industry and their proxies in the legislature are going to try and ram their dream bill through a lame duck congress.

http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,65704,00.html?tw=rss.TOP

The bill would also undo centuries of "fair use" -- the principle that gives Americans the right to use small samples of the works of others without having to ask permission or pay.


However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited.


The ACU plans a major print ad campaign this week to oppose the bill, mainly because some provisions would require the Justice Department to file civil copyright lawsuits on behalf of the entertainment industry.

"It's just plain wrong to make the Department of Justice Hollywood's law firm," said Stacie Rumenap, ACU's deputy director.
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
the massive problem with "fair use" is what constitutes a "sample".

Some people will take entire books and copy them (electronically or on paper).
They then claim "fair use" because the copy is divided into several smaller parts each of which could be called fair use.

Same with music. Rip a CD into individual tracks and you now have a set of samples. Claim fair use on each sample and the entire infraction (in the logic of the pirate) goes away.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
the massive problem with "fair use" is what constitutes a "sample".

Some people will take entire books and copy them (electronically or on paper).
They then claim "fair use" because the copy is divided into several smaller parts each of which could be called fair use.

Same with music. Rip a CD into individual tracks and you now have a set of samples. Claim fair use on each sample and the entire infraction (in the logic of the pirate) goes away.


I'm pretty sure you're mistaken here, and that there are legal definitions which would address the issue. With individual CD tracks for instance, each song is a complete copyrighted work. I'm more interested in the aspects of fair use which address issues like time-shifting and space-shifting for personal use, and the draconian laws proposed to halt these reasonable uses of copyrighted material.
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
as long as people are space-shifting their software, movies and music to the homes and computers of other people (through whatever means, be it CDRs, DVDRs, P2P networks, etc. etc.) there will be an effort to stop that from happening.

In any such effort the legitimate users will suffer under the criminals, such is society.

What saddens me most is that many legitimate users will defend the criminals high and low while blaming those whose property is being stolen by the criminals for the problem...
 
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subject: Further assaults on "Fair Use"