Monday, February 05, 2007

Turning point in copyright infringement cases | Stanford Center for Internet and Society [beta site]

In a very poignant post, Turning point in copyright infringement cases, author Balazs Bodo at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society lays out what he terms a "lose-lose" choice for Bill Gates. He's got a high profile request to intervene in a prosecution of a teacher in Russia for copyright infringement -- use of MS software without a license.

Interestingly, beyond Bado's commentary, two of the four arguments being made on behalf of the Russian teacher are arguments I outlined in one section of the paper I blogged here over the fall semester, On the Case for Fair Use, about the viability of a fair use claim for electronic reserves and digital distribution through courseware platforms like BlackBaord. A third argument has been floating around for awhile, the idea that remedies are out of proportion to the harm to the copyright owner.

I referred to the argument generally as a dysfuntional market argument, but in the paper, I concluded that in an American court today, the argument that educators shouldn't have to pay (ie their uses of others works in large-scale digital distributions to students should be fair use) if they can't afford it, isn't likely to be a winner. To read more than just the one section of the article referenced above, pull up the posts labeled copyright and that should retrieve them all (and a few other things no doubt).

I wonder whether, if such a claim succeeds in any forum, it is more likely to succeed in other fora. There would, in any event, still be considerable problems with it, as I suggest in the article. An interesting choice for Mr. Gates.

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