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Copyright Insanity: The Need To Get Licenses Just To Demonstrate A Legal Point

from the that-seems-problematic dept

Over at Against Monopoly, Alistair Kelman, points out yet another quirky problem with copyright law. He's discussing a book by Ron Rosen, who was the attorney for famed composer John Williams in fighting a copyright infringement claim saying that Williams copied a phrase in the score for the movie E.T.. The book is called Music and Copyright, and (according to Kelman) is quite a worthwhile read in thinking about some of the modern legal issues that will be faced thanks to mashups and other musical compositions that run up against copyright questions.

Kelman's one issue with the book, is that it would really be aided quite a bit by being able to hear the actual music in question, rather than just seeing the musical notation. So, the suggestion was, why did Rosen put up an online video lecture, playing the music samples so that people could better understand the issues at play. The answer, it turns out, is copyright law. Rosen wrote Kelman, noting:
"...about the need for aural examples, that is something we wanted to do for this edition, but as a new publication, the need for licenses and the budget foreclosed our doing so."
So even though this is a somewhat scholarly effort to look at these issues, apparently Rosen can't even demonstrate his points with music, because copyright forbids it, and requires hefty licensing fees. If ever there were a case where "fair use" should apply, this would seem to be it -- but I'm sure some would argue against that point since this book is a "for-profit" endeavor. Of course, whether something is commercial or not is only one of the four fair use factors, and it seems that if it's just a snippet of the music, a strong fair use case could be made (especially since it's hard to see how this could possibly harm the market for the music itself). However, as copyright system defenders love to point out on a regular basis, they see fair use as a "defense, rather than a right" and thus, the only way to prove that this is fair use would be to go to court -- something that is expensive and time consuming. What an unfortunate state of affairs.

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  1. icon
    chris (profile), 3 Jul 2009 @ 9:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RTFA

    heft·y (hěf'tē) adjective
    Of considerable size or amount

    Lovely definition, which I find perfectly acceptable

    excellent, if you will accept dictionary definitions, have a look at these:

    con⋅sid⋅er⋅a⋅tion (kən-sĭd'ə-rā'shən) noun
    1)the act of considering; careful thought; meditation; deliberation
    2)something that is or is to be kept in mind in making a decision, evaluating facts, etc.

    con⋅sid⋅er⋅a⋅ble (kən-sĭd'ər-ə-bəl) adjective
    1) Large in amount, extent, or degree
    2) Worthy of consideration; significant

    (3) What you have failed to establish is that (1) = (2). The fees were "outside the budget." Does that mean the fees were "considerable" or doest that they were not going to go outside their budget?

    if you have to decide whether you can afford a fee, you are considering it. that fee then becomes a factor to be considered; it becomes a consideration when making a decision and is therefore "considerable" according to definitnon #2 for the word considerable. if it is decided that the fee is too large, based on your consideration, then the fee is considerable according to definition #1 for the word considerable.

    therefore, according to the definitions above, the amount of the fee is considerable and therefore is "hefty".

    (5) Mike deliberately and with specific intent used the word "hefty" because he was intentionally biasing the original report to further enhance how he perceives of copyright;

    of course he did. he's a dirty bastard that keeps all his pirate bay money that supports terrorism in offshore accounts. i thought we established that already.

    (6) Did copyright "prevent" the use of the music? No, the publisher's unwillingness to go outside their budget prevented seeking the licenses, not copyright.

    and the licenses would be required even if copyright had fair use as a right instead of a legal defense? i think not.

    it still seems like fair use should have permitted the use of the music

    thanks to the copyright system, you can either pay up front (if you can even locate someone to pay) or you can roll the dice and run the risk of paying to prove fair use in court.

    both of those options seem like budgetary obstacles that prevent small independent creative works and are a direct result of copyright.

    was I bashing or asking for clarification or support for the use of a word that in context became pejorative?

    the dude explained why he used the word hefty like a dozen posts ago and you're still on his dick.

    At least, the hefty defensive reaction I got in response to my simple little question seemed to indicate so.


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