by David Colarusso - April 6th, 2007
Back in March when Viacom filed its $1 Billion lawsuit against Google I wrote a post expressing frustration with the media coverage. My contention was that the suit had the potential to chill fair use on the internet by making sites such as YouTube proxies for wealthy copyright holders. That is, if YouTube is denied safe harbor protection under the DMCA the burden of determining fair use effectively shifts from the courts to sites such as YouTube. Such a shift would force these sites to adopt overly cautious content polices or face costly litigation.
As it turns out, I just wasn’t reading the right stuff. I’ve since discovered the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) and the vibrant community of individuals working to make sure my fears don’t come to pass. I know I’m late to the party, but heck, as a teacher you stay pretty busy. I was extremely pleased to see their work to help support the Fair Use Act of 2007. This would help remedy a particularly sticky part of the DMCA in regards to teachers. Did you know it is illegal for me to make legal copies of some materials for the classroom? Even though fair use allows me to copy certain content, the DMCA makes it illegal for anyone to circumvent copyright protection technology. So I’m guaranteed the right to share copywritten works with my students and simultaneously bared from doing so if the copyright holder has put a protection in place. I’ve know this for almost five years, and I’m glad to see something is being done about it. As you can imagine, it makes projects such as this rather difficult.
Not directly related to the Viacom suit, the EFF has stepped in to help make my point. They’re filing in relation to a satirical video removed from YouTube due to one of Viacom’s take down request. This case should help establish that Viacom’s idea of what should be allowed is not the same as what’s permitted under the law.
Needless to say, it’s good to see people fighting the good fight. We’re working with law written for a different age, and if we want to continue growing our economy, fostering innovation, and improving our quality of life, we best make sure our laws keep up. I encourage you to show your support for the Fair Use Act of 2007.
Law & Lawyering, Society At Large