The Tech Industry Wants You To Support The Fight For Fair Use

Listen very carefully to the copyright statement in this clip. Thinking about discussing last weekend’s game with family and friends? The NFL clearly states that viewers cannot talk about the game to anyone without permission

Insane statements like this, and others, are the target of a FTC complaint by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a group backed by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Oracle and a range of other leading tech firms (full list here). The complaint argues that statements made by groups such as the NFL are illegal and deceptive, as ultimately viewers have rights under the US Constitution by way of Fair Use.

The CCIA isn’t stopping at a FTC complaint alone: they want your support in backing consumer rights to fair use. A new site, Defend Fair Use, has been launched and comes complete with copyright abuse examples and a petition that can be signed in support on the CCIA’s case before the FTC.

For those not familiar with the term, Fair Use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders*, or in laymen’s terms it allows anyone to use a clip, extract, or part thereof of copyrighted material in our own works, for example quoting a book in a blog post, displaying a snippet of a presidential debate in a video etc. The concept of Fair Use is based on free speech rights provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Commonwealth equivalent of Fair Use is Fair Dealing.

There are any number of causes floating around the tech industry. The more left wing inclined may support movements including Creative Commons; many of these movements tend to be anti-copyright. The fight for Fair Use is not one that is anti-copyright; fair use does not disown copyright nor seek to overthrow it and replace it with some sort of Utopian socialist vision of a free for all where content creators would no longer be able to own their works. Fair Use is about allowing, as the name suggests, fair use of copyrighted materials in a free and open society, be that by the press or by content creators such as bloggers and others. It’s a noble cause, if only because the alternative is absurd. Would we want to live in a society where you would need permission to discuss a football game due to copyright restrictions?

Those interested in signing the petition can do so here.

(in part via Ars)