IP, fair use, and the Internet Course

This week in The Internet Course we will be talking about intellectual property and fair use. There are tensions between the two which have always been there. The internet has exacerbated those tensions.

The US Copyright Office issued a circular on Copyright Basics (PDF) which discusses copyright law in detail. Fair Use is the term given to exemptions to copyright law. The Copyright Office explains these in some detail, but it’s not usually a black and white, cut and dried situation.

Our panel of Internauts this week, Desiree, Sheldon and Josiah, have collected several articles relating to our topic. Josiah’s map puts the Copyright Clause of the US Constitution at the center, which was a nice touch. I find it interesting that the law is there to promote progress, but the enforcement of it is usually to protect profits. The two are not always aligned.

Lawyer Lawrence Lessig gave a TED talk on that mis-alignment:

Lawrence Lessig: Laws that choke creativity

Choking creativity seems to be directly at odds with promoting progress. Lessig founded Creative Commons as a way of dealing with this.

The copyright issue the internet is best known for is probably piracy. GI Joe even addresses it at the top of our syllabus. I wonder how the general public’s view of piracy has changed over the last decade or so. I’d be interested to hear what the class thinks about that.

On a somewhat related note, an article in this weekend’s NY Times noted:

ABC in January started requiring people to verify that they had a cable subscription to watch its shows on Hulu. Users either didn’t have the necessary information or declined to go the extra step, it seems, because the rate of piracy for “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a network drama, shot up 300 percent.

Does the fight against piracy, in some ways, end up encouraging it?

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