In honor of Fair Use week, this week, I wanted to respond to a blog that quoted one of my posts recently. In the article, the author, Anthony Hogg, discusses some takedown notices he received and the ensuing legal battles. He also makes an important point: “Fair use is an invaluable safeguard against over-protective and malicious complainants. It’s not just useful for articles like Erin’s ‘Seeking Vampires in London,’ it’s beneficial for all writers, journalists, artists, teachers and students.”
Case in point, take a look at this picture:
From Jason Edmiston
This is a drawing used in one of the PennWIC blog’s own posts. Clearly it is a fair use, mashing up various monsters and in this particular instance used to advertise Halloween programming at WIC. If one had to ask the permission of the Stoker and Shelley estates, or Universal Pictures, this kind of picture would never be created. Additionally, PennWIC’s mashup contest, or even the phenomenon of mashups themselves, would be equally impossible.
Fundamentally, fair use is an essential safety valve protecting our ability to free speech. As Rebecca Tushnet says in Copy this Essay “Sometimes a copy is just a copy; other times it is vitally important speech.”
One of the great advantages of the internet is the open and free commentary that it allows. I am gratified that Anthony Hogg, a person whose work I would likely never encounter in my work as an academic librarian, was able to find my work about fair use helpful and that he was able to quote my work (utilizing fair use) in order to make a point about his particular situation. Though fair use may not be a stake in the heart of copyright, nor should it be, it should remain an important tool for all people who need to use it for the purposes of “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research” on an open internet and within a free society.
Happy Fair Use Week to all!
For more information:
Fair Use Week – http://www.arl.org/events/event/148#.VO4vay75GLo
Copyright Office – http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html
Penn Copyright Guide on Fair Use – http://guides.library.upenn.edu/copyright/fair_use
Stanford Fair Use Site – http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/