Saturday, September 4, 2010

There are many laws for breaking copyright, what about for hindering fair use

Fair is fair. The law must cover both sides.

Imagine a supermarket and a customer. There are laws against shoplifting, hijacking the supply trucks, holding up the cashier, vandalism of store property, etc. But what if in return there were no laws protecting the other guy, the consumer. For example laws against misleading advertisments/labels, laws against hazardous ingredients, laws against cheating the scales, etc etc.

A medical example. What if there were laws where a patient could sue a doctor for malpractice, but in return, there were no laws for doctors to sue patients who file frivolous lawsuits. For people who don't know about that, I'll explain. That is one way for a patient to make money.  If the doctor has malpractice insurance, Its a heck of a lot cheaper for the insurer to just settle out of court than to go through the legal process and win. If the patient has no fear of punishment under the law then he could file a frivolous lawsuit against a totally innocent doctor knowing that the insurance will pay even a small amount to avoid going through the court system.

OK, back on topic

As a rich business, its pretty easy for the supermarket to "lobby" the government for tighter laws that benefit them, but what about the consumer? He's only one relatively powerless person so the government should make an effort to protect him.

Brazil has proposed copyrght laws that address this. Two examples quoted from here <LINK>.

Brazil went with a "notice-and-notice" setup, that let an accused party respond before their content gets taken down. Isn't due process grand?

I'm no expert but I'll try to explain. For most every other offence in the modern world, there is a presumption of innocence, but that doesnt seem to apply with copyright. For example, with most video streaming sites, (correct me if i'm wrong) AFAIK the process if someone complains about a video being a breach of copyright is to immediately take down the video then the one who posted the video has to prove that he's not in breach before the video is re posted by the site. What that law seems to require is that the accused be given a chance to reply to the accusation. Looks fair to me.

Here's the second example

What's especially surprising about Brazil's approach isn't just that it's allowing non-infringing circumvention (which, alone, would be nice to see), but that it's actually adding sanctions and punishment for those who block fair use or use of public domain works

 Looks pretty fair to me. I'll end by quoting the end of that article

Breaking DRM for infringing purposes is still very much illegal, but what Brazil is saying here is that locking up the public domain, or blocking fair use will not be tolerated. I cannot fathom who could possibly be against such a proposal, but I imagine we'll start to hear twisted arguments against it pretty quickly.

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