Technology and Business Law Blog

Bloggers and Copyright

Fair use is one of the most debated areas in copyright law. Recently in the limelight was the Harry Potter’s Lexicon litigation in which Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project Defends RDR Books against Copyright Lawsuit Brought by J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Other fair use cases have been litigated by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) but the most recent fair use issue that grabbed the attention of people like me is the Associated Press (AP) sending DMCA take down copyright notices to blogger Roger Cadenhead of Doudge Retort.

According to AP it wants to “limit the amount of original content that gets copied” and the “use of content directly in the blog”. Blogging has become very popular since it allows anyone to put forth their point of view and share their thoughts out there and good blogs make interesting reading and creates a resource pool consisting of the community’s thought process.

Blogging and other journalistic pursuits thrive on the foundation of fair use based on voicing their opinion on other people’s literary creations. The trouble with fair use is that is overly broad and according to the Copyright Act of 1976, in determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. The nature of the copyrighted work;

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Fair Use defense and its application will vary greatly depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, since there are no set standards and courts decide whether a particular use is fair or not on a case by case basis.

EFF had put forth has set forth legal guidelines and blogger legal liability issues on their website, and it is a good idea to get oneself familiarized with it while blogging.

In the world of blogging the copyright rules are minimally followed and on a particular day most popular blogs carry the same story and lot of the material is recirculated. The web is a bedrock of copyright infringement but interestingly if not for this one would not get to hear the different view points of people from various walks of life on the same subject matter. Copyright infringement makes journalism more alluring, vibrant, spiced up and interesting.

It does not matter how many DMCA’s takedown notices are sent or how many copyright infringement law suits are filed, now that the flood gates of the Internet have opened there is no going back or stopping of infringement over the Internet. The only solution is rewrite the copyright laws and accept the inevitable.


June 18, 2008 Posted by | Copyright, Copyright Infringement | | 1 Comment