The Fight for Fair Use

QuestionCopyright.org doesn't normally focus on economic issues, concentrating instead on the suppressive effects of today's copyright regime on art and creativity. But sometimes a story is just too good to pass up... or in this case, the juxtaposition of two stories.

The first comes from Patrick Ross, executive director of the Copyright Alliance (a strongly pro-copyright group whose backers include the MPAA, NBC, News Corp, Disney, Time Warner, the Business Software Alliance, and Microsoft).

Ross wrote an editorial for news.com entitled "Fair use is not a consumer right". His editorial was a response to Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)'s recent complaint filed with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), alleging that the copyright warnings shown before most movies and broadcasts are intimidating and inaccurate. Which they are, of course. In the words of the CCIA:

Translations of this site.

People sometimes translate pages on this site into other languages. Naturally, we encourage this, and you don't even have to ask permission (because making derivative works shouldn't require permission). But if you tell us about a translation you've done, we'll link to it from the original article, and host it if you want.

Recently, Hua Jin made two new translations into Chinese, which gives us a nice excuse to highlight all the translations here. If you know of more, or are interested in doing some yourself, please tell us.

So far we've got:

New York University Confuses Filesharing with Plagiarism

We've often written here about how the copyright industry loves to confuse attribution with control of copying. The two are quite different, of course: plagiarism is not the same as the unauthorized sharing of properly-attributed materials. For example, when college students download songs from the Internet, they do not replace the artists' names with their own. The vast majority of shared files are accurately credited, even when the copying itself is illegal.

But the industry knows that the public gets much more upset about misattribution ("Artists deserve credit for their work!") than about illegal copying ("What, I can't share with my friends?"). So industry representatives take the easy route and simply pretend that one is the other.

I hadn't expected to see a New York University associate provost fall for the trick, though. Marilyn McMillan, Associate Provost and CITO at NYU, has published A Note on Illegal Downloading. It starts out with a few paragraphs purely about illegal copying, then takes a turn into truly weird territory...

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