Tag: fair use

Using Copyright to Quash Criticism

zillow-mcmansion-effElectronic Frontier Foundation

Kate Wagner runs an architecture criticism blog called McMansion Hell, where she posts pictures and opinions of examples of what she considers poor design. Mostly she criticizes big houses that are meant to appeal buyers’ vanities. A company called the Zillow Group sent her a cease and desist order saying the pictures she was using were protected by copyright and couldn’t be used. She did what most people would do when threatened by the lawyers of a big corporation. She shut down her blog.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. The Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF) got wind of it and stepped in to defend Ms Wagner against the specious order. They sent a couple of strongly worded letters to Zillow’s lawyers and let them know they weren’t going to get away with their bullying.

EFF staff attorney Daniel Nazer said, “Our client has no obligation to, and thus will not, comply with Zillow’s demands. Zillow’s legal threats are not supported and plainly seek to interfere with protected speech.”

Zillow quickly changed its tune, claiming that they never had any intention of interfering with Ms Wagner’s freedom of expression. They just thought they were protecting the copyright of the owners of the images she was taking from Zillow’s website. The EFF let them know that they were wrong.

EFF’s response called Zillow’s legal complaints “baseless” and its allegations “unfounded and unsupportable” as it laid out a variety of legal arguments for why McMansion Hell and Wagner were not bound by Zillow’s terms of use and why her use of photographs sourced from Zillow are indeed protected by fair use.

The McMansion Hell blog is back up and running and Ms Wagner is breathing easily again. Chalk up another one for the EFF, those heroes who defend our freedoms.

via Zillow drops complaint against ‘McMansion Hell’ blog after backlash over copyright claim – GeekWire

rjb

Copyright Education

Photo Credit - opensource.com

Photo Credit – opensource.com

In California, USA, they’re letting the copyright industry draft educational policy. An article on Wired and another on opensource.com will give you all the details, so I’ll just do a summary here.

Copyright education is how the industry looks at it. To them it makes perfect sense that the school curriculum should be tailored to protect their income. They seem to have some allies in government who feel the same way, and a long and determined propaganda campaign has much of the public indoctrinated with their message. And if it was only a message to inform people of their responsibilities and their rights when dealing with copyrighted material, that would be all right. Unfortunately, the message is more often that copying is stealing, and that anyone who doesn’t pay for the privilege is evil.

copyright-fair-useThe copyright education envisaged by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America,) the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and some other acronyms focuses entirely on what they will lose if they can’t stop people from sharing. As the Wired article puts it, “Downloading is Mean!” This copyright education will be fine tuned to the comprehension level of children from kindergarten through grade six. It is the childrens’ comprehension level that forces them to not complicate the material with concepts like fair use. Instead, they want to be sure that the children understand that any use of copyrighted material without permission is stealing.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Meanwhile, the article on opensource.com thinks the message to children should be about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do. They can learn all the stuff about copyright and fair use later, when their brains are more sophisticated. In addition to that, they point out that there is no mention of the commons, the public domain or open licenses. The children aren’t being told that there is material out there that is free to share, or that they are actively encouraged to share by its creator. No Musopen. No Green Comet. That must be something else that they’re not ready to understand. Opensource.com counters this self-serving deception by offering links to many better sources for copyright curriculum.

If the government allows corporate propaganda in the classroom, then they’re betraying the children they’re meant to nurture.

rjb

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