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"Fair Use" and Copyright

Tags Legal SystemInterventionismMonopoly and Competition

Media Critic Solomon Pushes Limits of Fair-Use in New Documentary provides a good illustration of how flawed the entire notion of copyright is. This piece reports that:

The new documentary "War Made Easy" isn't just a searing critique of how administrations over the past 40 years have manipulated the media to build support for war. The 72-minute film is a media provocation itself — a challenge to federal copyright laws.
Based on a 2005 book by Bay Area media critic Norman Solomon and narrated by actor Sean Penn, roughly 90 percent of "War Made Easy" consists of archival news footage from major television networks that would cost a ton of money to license — if the filmmakers had paid for all of it; they bought only about 60 percent from distributors. 0817 01
The filmmakers say they are protected under the "fair use" provision of federal copyright law, a measure that is being tested in ways unimagined when it was codified 30 years ago.

The "fair use" doctrine is a safety valve in copyright law; without it, the effect of copyright would be even more draconian than it is now. But the "fair use" standard is inherently arbitrary and non-objective. It is impossible to imagine such a standard arising on the free market in a private-property order. To protect copyright the only real choice is to have a draconian, ridiculous Galambosian-style copyright system which would be obviously and manifestly incompatible with true private property rights; or to temper its effect, to blunt its edges, with arbitratry, discretionary doctrines like this. Neither option is compatible with property rights.

Author:

Stephan Kinsella

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.

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