The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'fair use'
A new report from the US Computer and Communications Industry Association has found that fair use exemptions to copyright add more than three times as much value to the US economy as copyright industries. Fair use exemptions account for more than US$4.5 trillion of revenue to the US, whereas the copyright industries brought in US$1.3 trillion. Which sounds like an argument against new neo-Galambosian erosions of fair use and extensions and expansions of intellectual-property rights of the sort that Big Copyright has been pushing for.
The Australian federal government is set to legalise MP3 ripping. In Australia, ripping MP3s from CDs, taping TV programmes and doing other such things without the rightsholder's permission is a criminal offense, and has been since Australia adopted US copyright law without those pesky fair-use provisions that so get in the way of the copyright industry. Now the Attorney-General (in between making sedition and detention-without-trial laws, undoubtedly) intends to bring in some fair-use provisions for "everyday forms of private copying that do not harm copyright owners". Hopefully the provisions will be drafted reasonably broadly and won't have any nasties like DRM mandates or anything.
The EFF's take on the US supreme court's unanimous decision in favour of Big Copyright against Grokster. Executive summary: it's not as bad as it could have been (the court didn't strike down the Betamax doctrine or explicitly oblige designers of technologies to take steps to prevent copyright infringement), though it does open up a legal minefield, allowing Big Copyright to sue anyone who makes anything that handles intellectual property if they can argue that their business model depends on inducement. (Presumably they could sue Apple for selling iPods if that they can show that Apple's iPod business model depends on people ripping CDs or downloading MP3s.) The RIAA and MPAA will undoubtedly be making hay of this, launching salvos of lawsuits to make examples of technology makers, and possibly positioning themselves as a regulatory agency for any technology involving copyrighted materials. The EU and Australia will, of course, follow in lockstep in their reading of intellectual-property law, so the chilling effect will go beyond the US. In a few years' time, the hottest and most usable gadgets may be smuggled in from Brazil, India or China (assuming one can get them through customs).
Meanwhile, commentators on SCOTUSblog say that this is at best a hollow victory for Big Copyright and quite possibly a huge loss, as they didn't get the blunt instrument they wanted. And this Salon piece suggests that the decision may open the door to Google being sued for copyright infringement.
In Australia, taping TV programmes or ripping MP3s from purchased CDs is technically a criminal offense. Australia recently harmonised its intellectual-property laws with the United States, though without adopting the Fair Use doctrine which protects such activities; as such, Australia currently has some of the world's most draconian copyright laws. The government has issued a discussion paper on adopting fair use/fair dealing exemptions, and is soliciting comments. The possibilities include anything from US-style fair use to the right to circumvent DRM in limited circumstances (as some countries have). Keep in mind that there will be a lot of pressure from Big Copyright on the government to have no or minimal fair-use provisions, to maximise their profits (after all, if you cannot legally rip your CDs to your iPod, you're forced to buy or rent a separate (DRM-locked) copy of anything you wish to listen to on it or face the possibility of prosecution). If the government doesn't hear much demand for fair use, it might acquiesce to its corporate stakeholders' demands. As such, if you live in Australia, it is in your interest to make your opinion heard. Speak up before there are MIPI officers with handheld scanning devices patrolling public areas, doing on-the-spot copyright audits of MP3 players and issuing four-figure fines.