Fair Use/Fair Dealing Doesn't Require Payment Or Permission
from the how-things-work dept
It continues to amaze me just how much people can’t get their heads around the rather basic concept of fair use (or, as some countries prefer, fair dealing). Howard Knopf has a blog post, talking about a Canadian university that, for reasons that make no sense, has included in its “copyright guidelines” the claim that it pays an annual fee to Canadian copyright collection society Access Copyright (currently involved in a bit of a controversy concerning its fees) to cover “fair dealing” copying.
However, as Knopf writes, this makes no sense:
This, of course, reflects a serious misunderstanding. If the copying is “fair dealing”, it is unnecessary to pay Access Copyright or anyone else for copying it.
The whole point of fair use/fair dealing is that it allows you to make use of works without permission or payment.
And yet it’s very, very difficult for some people to comprehend this. For example, we were recently sent an email from someone who didn’t like that we quoted a story that he had written, first saying that it did not meet his definition of fair use. I wrote back (nicely, I thought) explaining why our use was fair (we only used a small portion of the text, we added significant commentary on top of it, etc.). This person wrote back saying that he was very upset that we failed to “negotiate” with him, and until we came to a mutually agreed upon definition of fair use, we were no longer “permitted” to quote anything he has written.
I’m really not quite sure how to respond to such people, because explaining to them what fair use is seems to only make them more upset. The whole point of fair use is that we don’t need permission. We certainly don’t need to come to a mutually agreed upon definition of what that person considers fair use (since he outright rejected my definition, despite my offer to send citations showing that my definition is the legal one). Once you’re talking about permission or negotiating, you’re no longer talking about fair use.
Of course, in this case, there is a fairly simple solution: even though we legally can, I’ve instructed everyone here to simply never use this site as a source again, since the site’s owner apparently would prefer not to have our traffic. That’s got nothing to do with “fair use” however…