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), 6 Jul 2009 @ 8:00am

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

    Okay, but you never gave any kind of reference to "hefty" other than what the author stated.

    of course not, there is nothing else to go on. "hefty" is based entirely on the author's statement.

    the original question was how can the word hefty be justified based on the article? i have clearly stated that you can justify the word because the fees were considerable, i.e. they were worthy of consideration, and based on that consideration, they were determined to be large enough to be out of reach.

    in the absence of real data (numbers) mike took the author's statement to be true and that justifies the use of the word.

    the whole blog post is predicated on the author's statement being true, that the fees are too large. your counter argument is based on the assumption that the author's statement is not true, that the fees were not in fact large.

    After, that EVERYTHING you said (and that Mike said) was an assumption.

    of course. the issue here isn't that mike's good faith in the author is an assumption. the issue is that his assumptions were countered with yet more assumptions. i have stated from the beginning that i stand by my assertion that your assumption dispelled mikes assumption, thanks to your numbers that don't really exist.

    all of this drama is about someone accusing mike of spinning the author's statement to support his anti-copyright agenda and then using more assumptions and spin in an attempt to prove this "fact". that is why this is so entertaining.

    Incidentally, there is nothing to reply to in this message, so you can stop now.

    and now we take the "this is pointless" defense. in public school i didn't learn the latin name for it, but on slashdot it's called winning with the last word.

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