Copyright Lobby Continues To Pretend Fair Use Is Not A Right
from the can-we-kill-this-myth? dept
Recently, we had a post about yet another overreaching copyright statement on a website that made claims to rights that copyright simply does not grant. In the comments, someone responded with the silly line that fair use is not a right, it’s just a “defense.” This is both wrong and misleading. It is true that fair use is a defense that can be used in court — but the reason it can be used as a defense is because it’s a right provided to people who are making use of copyrighted works without permission. This was explained quite clearly by Adam Wasserman in our comments.
Apparently, the whole “fair use isn’t a right” line is a part of the copyright lobby’s talking points this week, as Patrick Ross (who is paid to promote stronger copyright laws) has written up an entire editorial at News.com stating that fair use is not a right. He’s flat out wrong. The entire reason that a fair use defense is allowed is because it is a right. The rest of Ross’s argument is typically misleading or outright wrong. He never explains why it’s okay for companies to exaggerate and lie about what copyright allows them to do — other than to suggest it would just be too complicated to have a copyright notice that accurately explains fair use. It may true that it would be cumbersome, but that doesn’t explain why copyright holders get to lie about what kind of protections copyright provides them. Ross, as per usual, believes that the rights of the copyright holder are more important than the rights of the user (which is exactly the opposite of why copyrights were put in place in the first place). Therefore, he writes as though trampling on users’ rights is no big deal, as long as it protects all copyright holders’ rights. Unfortunately for Ross, our nation’s founders were quite worried about the dangers of granting monopoly protection and were much more focused on protecting the rights of citizens to make use of information. They were quite clear that monopolies need to have their limits — and too many companies are overstepping those limits.