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Friday, August 31, 2007

"All Rights Reserved" has its limits

Watch a pro football game in the past few years? Recall the phrase "Any rebroadcast, retransmission or other use of this telecast without the written consent of the National Football League is prohibited."

In the world of copyright, digital technology has enabled information sharing - and piracy - on a new level. But the reaction of many rights holders in this environment has been to overstep their legal rights and assert total control over their content. Not only does the NFL assert total authority over their broadcast, they even asked a university professor to take down a YouTube video of the copyright notice.

The truth is, the Fair Use clause of the copyright act provides several venues for rebroadcast or other use of copy-protected content. From the Wikipedia article:
The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
Some companies, Microsoft and Google among them, are banding together to help defend Fair Use, arguing that legal overreaching on copyright is harmful to innovation. Check out their website, Defend Fair Use, here to see some examples of copyright abuse.

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