CyberTech Rambler

September 7, 2007

Fair use is not a consumer-right, it is a legal right

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:52 am

CCIA filed a complaint about the copyright notice we all see on our DVD etc. Maura Corbett explains why she thinks it needs to be changed. The argument is that it misrepresents the limit of the copyright legislation and that consumers are mislead by mistaking permissible fair-use as illegal.

Patrick Ross defended these copyright warning, arguing it on three prongs: (1) saying that Fair Use right is not a consumer right, (2)saying that these copyright notices are not “fair use public announcement” and (3)no harm to consumers on the statement. I will say this is classic sleight-of-hand tactics to divert your attention away from the actual issue.

On Fair use right is not a consumer right, he is right. It is a legal right, eventhough he did not call it this way. He decided to beat around the bush by calling it a legal defense. I believe the difference between “legal defense” and “legal right” is important if you are a lawyer talking about the law. To a layperson like you and me, there is little distinction. However, this is a word that PR people choose to use when they cannot ignore the issue, and using the word “legal right” will damage the image they try to portray.

As for those copyright notices are not “fair use public announcement”. I agree in part and disagree in part. I agree that they need not present a “fair view” of copyright usage and can be biased towards the need of copyright holders, but it cannot misrepresents the fact, or failed the the general concept of “fair play”. Throughout history, legislation had been written to penalize people from misrepresenting the fact and to protect fair play. In UK for example, advertisement gets banned because it misrepresents the fact. One example is the claim of “anti-aging” effect in creams. It’s easy to claim “anti-aging” as the mere presence of ingredient with SPF factor is good enough, but a cream claiming “anit-aging” with such an ingredient got banned. Why? It is a night cream.

No harm to consumers? It is difficult to quantify the harm caused. The harm occurs when a consumer did not exercise his fair use right because he sees the warning. If he did this, he will, by his action, means he is unaware of the harm and cannot report it. Furthermore, how is someone going to prove this in court?

The whole CCIA complaint is about misrepresenting the fact. In particular, it believe that the copyright warning  labels legal activities, such as “fair use” right, as illegal. Rather than  challenging this accusation head on, Ross had decided to take issue with adjacent issues. Don’t get me wrong, these issues are important and interesting, but it falls outside the scope on the discussion of the complain.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: