Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Curbing Copyblight

From the abstract: "This Article identifies and analyzes the growing problem of “copyblight” — the widespread use of overreaching claims by putative copyright holders to ownership of public domain works, and, more broadly, to exclusive rights which they do not hold in copyrighted works.

Despite the fact that copyblight circumscribes political and social discourse, stifles creativity, and constricts the dissemination of information, present law provides few, if any, disincentives against the practice. For example, the Copyright Clearance Center and major publishing houses earn millions of dollars in ill-gotten license payments from students and academic institutions by glibly tossing aside the “limited times” requirement and claiming rights to public domain works. Talk show hosts, law firms, and major record labels overwhelm legitimate fair use rights when they suppress criticism of hate speech, stifle public commentary on legal positions and tactics, and, most infamously, tell a mother that she cannot place on a YouTube a short video of her baby dancing to unauthorized music. Meanwhile, college bookstores, big box retailers, and Major League Baseball attempt to circumvent copyright’s subject matter limitations when they claim protection in book lists, product pricing, and factual statistical data for playing fantasy sports. In all, countless organizations and entities flout provisions of federal law that protect the public interest by circumscribing the scope of copyright protection." Read more