“Fair Use” Discussed in “The Atlantic”


A recent article in “The Atlantic”–in relatively clear terms–discusses Fair Use doctrine, an issue I’ve broached in a number of Newsletters during the past year or so.  To say that Fair Use is complex is tantamount to implying it’s easy to split the atom in one’s basement.  The article claims that the judge’s decision was ten years in the making, and that he still got it wrong (at least that was my take).  Yes, I can’t even decide on which side of the fence the article’s writer is sitting.  The gist is that if a something is “transformative” with respect to adumbrating the need to copy the material, then it’s okay.  The major impact of this is allowing Google to copy entire textbooks–and pay no royalty to the publisher or author–as long as just “snippets” are published.  However, it’s not that difficult for someone to request enough snippets to ultimately acquire the entire text.  At issue is what constitutes “too much material,” thus when a “snippet” of several pages of quoted material is considered excessive.  When someone answers that effectively, have that person tell me when I’m having too much fun.

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