Tuesday, November 30, 2004

'Transitional Fair Use'

First (in the style of Paul), apologies for being an absent blogger. My nearly brand new Thinkpad died a sudden (but painless) death 10 days ago, and I've been hobbled ever since.


I thought this article was interesting: 'Is Transitional Fair Use' the Wave of the Future?'

The subject of IP is a few weeks old now, but I think fair use is the most interesting aspect of it. The article lays out a scheme that HBO is planning by which someone would be able to record a show on their DVR, but only keep it for a limited amount of time. None of this watching an episode several weeks later.

Is this the beginning of the end for fair use? Or was fair use already dead?


Blogger Paul Duguid said...

The "transitional fair use" notion (which morphs into "transitional copyright" later on in the article), strikes me as odd, and suggests that the executives quoted didn't really know what they were talking about.

First (if I may), it isn't clear what "transitional" means in this case.

Moreover (in the style of Judd), it isn't really fair use that is at issue here. That "exception" allows copying "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright". That list doesn't automatically include recording television shows for private use, which is what the providers are after here. (Well, I suppose what they are really after is the effect that copying has on residuals.)

What is on show here is the "content" providers continuous desire to control the means of distribution and reproduction (by leaning heavily on cable companies, in this instance) to limit what end users might do lest end-users limit the providers profits. They began with the attack on the VCR, and it may not be coincidental that this idea appears just as the press is talking about the death of the VCR. Before you sell your soul for DVR, remember the resources of your old VCR.

11:49 AM  

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