Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Fair Use" Enables Creation, the Essential Ingredient to Economic Growth

Picasso said, "Mediocre artists borrow, great artists steal." There is a lot of truth to what Picasso says and he should know, right?

Drill down to the core of any creation and you will undoubtedly find "copyright infringement". It's how life rolls. None of us are gods as much as we would like to believe that we are.

Therefore, Fair Use, a doctrine in U. S. copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders when the benefit to society outweighs the cost to the copyright owner, is fair, as it legalizes the process of creation, something essential to the existence of the human being.

So, having said that, how does this law work? The particular use of a copyrighted work is permissible dependent upon four factors, the last factor weighted heavily:

1. The character and purpose of the use.
2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
3. The amount of the work that is used.
4. The effect of the use on the market for the copyrighted work.

As the debates regarding copyright law in the digital age escalate, it's important to keep in mind that the Fair Use economy represents one-sixth of U.S. GDP or more than $4.5 trillion in annual revenue for the United States. Not only that, nearly one out of every eight American jobs is in an industry that benefits from "fair use".

The aforementioned information, in and of itself, especially considering the state of our economy, is enough proof that the benefit of "fair use" to society far outweighs the cost to copyright holders. The "fair use"doctrine should be expanded to incorporate the inevitable rapid changes that will continue on in the digital age, in order to avoid the cost of unnecessary litigation, while at the same time, supply the fertile ground needed for economic growth to occur across the broad spectrum of various sectors that make up our economy.

“Much of the unprecedented economic growth of the past ten years can actually be credited to the doctrine of fair use, as the Internet itself depends on the ability to use content in a limited and nonlicensed manner. To stay on the edge of innovation and productivity, we must keep fair use as one of the cornerstones for creativity, innovation and, as today’s study indicates, an engine for growth for our country”
I would think John McCain agrees ...Jackson Browne, not so much. I don't know that John McCain's use of Browne's song, "Running on Empty" benefited society all that much, but considering it was only a small portion of the song rather than a large one, McCain's chances are good that "fair use" will more than likely be found. However, the question is, did McCain's use of that small portion help the marketing of Browne's content or did it reduce of the market for Browne's content?

Just as Steve Perry didn't want to see 'the Soprano family being whacked to 'Don't Stop Believin', it's possible Jackson Browne did not want to see John McCain running his campaign to the tune of "Running on Empty".

However, Jackson must realize that John McCain, despite his politics (I'm assuming Browne is a Democrat), may have introduced his song to a brand new generation who would have never heard of him, otherwise. Who knows? Maybe that clip will inspire a youngster to musical greatness.


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