Court Explains Fair Use To Michael Savage; Dismisses Copyright Infringement Charges Against CAIR
from the abuse-of-copyright dept
Back in February, we wrote about how radio talk show host Michael Savage was misusing copyright law to charge the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) with copyright infringement. Savage had apparently said some negative things about CAIR, and CAIR responded by posting the segment of Savage’s show and responding to the points he raised. This kind of criticism is the very definition of fair use, and it seemed clear that Savage was trying to abuse the law to silence CAIR from responding to his allegations. What amazed me, though, were the comments responding to that post, accusing CAIR of all sorts of terrorist activities — and then naming me as a supporter of the “terrorist jihad” for pointing out that Savage was abusing copyright law. I made no statements either way concerning either what Savage was saying or CAIRs response. My interest was merely in the issue as relating to copyright law — and, on that, it appears that I was right.
The court has now tossed out Savage’s lawsuit, pointing out that CAIRs actions were, indeed, fair use.
The complaint affirmatively asserts that the purpose and character of [CAIR’s] use of the limited excerpts from the radio show was to criticize publicly the anti-Muslim message of those excerpts. To comment on [Savage’s] statements without reference or citation to them would not only render [CAIR’s] criticism less reliable, but be unfair to [Savage]. Further, it was not unreasonable for [CAIR] to provide the actual audio excerpts, since they reaffirmed the authenticity of the criticized statements and provided the audience with the tone and manner in which [Savage] made the statements.
Furthermore, the court points out that Savage’s claim of “lost revenue” from this so-called infringement are incorrect as well:
Plaintiff instead alleges that defendants caused him financial loss in advertising revenue. Assuming the truth of this allegation, it relates only to the economic impact on future shows, and has no impact on the market for the original, copyrighted show on October 29, 2007.
If it’s true that CAIR is some sort of evil terrorist organization, then let the feds deal with it. Don’t misuse copyright law to do so. If it’s true (as others alleged in the comments) that CAIR uses similar tactics on critics, then let’s expose that as well. But, misusing copyright law should never be seen as an acceptable way to shut up an opponent. If truth is on your side, use it. Don’t try to shut up opponents by twisting copyright law to your purposes.