Wikipedia talk:WikiProject United States Public Policy/Courses/Spring 2011/Politics of Piracy (Max Klein and Patrick Berger)/Schedule/3

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Questions[edit]

  1. Fair Use/Copyright: Is there a simpler or more clean-cut way to determine if a given use of a copyright material is fair use than the guidelines being used today?
  2. Stallman: If “the public deserves to get what it wants,”​ a very democratic approach, then how ought we determine a want of the public (especially in terms of copyright)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Amlz (talkcontribs) 21:54, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Responses[edit]

Question 1[edit]

As long as the copyright holders include not only the creator (artist) but also producers and parent companies (record labels), I don't think that there is an efficient and objective way to determine 'fair use' since parent companies will try to find any ways to maximize profit (or find anyone to blame for a decline in their profits). From personal experience, the music industry pursues property theft with a very "shotgun" approach. One of the DJ blogs I frequent makes small edits to tracks (for mixing its easier to have a few bars of instrumental added before a chorus or verse). Every so often, a record company will threaten the blog with a takedown notice, and since the webhost it too scared to fight it, we have to migrate hosts quite often. Like I said, 99% of times, nothing will come out of these legal threats since no changes are made to any part of the song itself, but its too much hassle for a blog owner to go against a media giant. With this shotgun approach, I definitely think the parent companies aren't considering fair use at all, but just trying their best to cut down ALL facets for sharing of their media. Dlchu1230 (talk) 20:39, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

I do not think there is a cleaner and simpler way to define fair use, but as far as the article goes I would have prefered if the author of this website focused more on ways that Fair Use can be accomplished rather than after a violation has been committed how courts determine fair use. Once again we see the same scare tactics such as when court cases result in those ridiculous fines. I just think its poor logic to define a law by how it can be broken rather than followed. I would have prefered more examples such as the First Sale and Public Domain. Their logic is simply....this is what your allowed to do! Gorozco1 (talk) 04:31, 5 February 2011 (UTC)

I agree with Gorozco that there isn't really a cleaner and simpler way to define fair use because if there was, it would probably exist. The problem is that each case is subjective considering the position of the copyright holder and the actual use of the content, so each must be examined separately and dealt with based on varying circumstances. However, perhaps instead of imposing ridiculous fines on a select few to set an example for the rest of the public, the courts could establish smaller fines for violations and target more people. This way, instead of being afraid of the low possibility of being fined heavily, people would be deterred by of the high possibility of being fined a smaller amount. Gunheim (talk) 22:56, 6 February 2011 (UTC) Featured Comment PatBerger (talk) 00:39, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Copy right is a very subjective matter and its very hard to determine exactly what is right and wrong (as with almost every aspect of law). One party will naturally want one outcome that benefits them, and the opposing party will want the other outcome. Which party is correct is not something that can be easily determined. On the subject of imposing a small fine on a larger group of people instead of a massive intimidating fine on a select few, I think the former would be impractical for lawyers and the party filing charges. Because this area is so subjective, It would be very hard to make a formula of clear lines where one act would result in a small fine and another one wouldn't. Christopher998 (talk) 09:43, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

I agree. I think that the broad guidelines are actually helpful/productive, leaving it up to a third-party judge to make case-by-case decisions on what is fair use and what is infringement. I believe that some lawsuits are a little bit ridiculous and if fair use guidelines are narrowed down or made more specific, a lot would probably be banned that shouldn't be. It's all too subjective and wide-ranging to really encase into neat little compartments. Also, I think that allowing mash-ups is productive to society for the reason that they allow a certain kind of creativity to foster and grow and another economy booster can be generated from it. Kionajp (talk) 21:49, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

With regard to the statement that mash-ups are productive to society in both creative and economic realms, I would agree. The argument can definitely be made that mash-ups are a very technically driven, progression of music that brings in money (I know from experience from trying to buy a ticket to a sold out Girl Talk show.) I think the only way that the issue of fair use is going to be improved, is by overtime observing the precedent of cases of fair use and using that to build on the guidelines we currently have. Sampling is a relatively contemporary "problem" so it's to be expected that not all the landmark cases have been decided. Perhaps then when we have more defined rules these situations can be handled outside of court. Raimi.michael (talk) 00:04, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I think that have a fixed, global definition of how fair use/copyright works is nearly impossible, since it varies from case-to-case. Because of the broad guidelines, it allows for growth and enrichment –– for the benefit of society. However, because copyright law keeps being extended, preventing copyrighted works to not enter the public domain, it keeps the monopolized system going. Usually the people highest up the hierarchical ladder is allowed to keep their rights protected (e.g. Disney), while others are less fortunate. The scare tactics that big business uses against the public to protect their copyrighted material seems to prevent growth and creativity. I think it can get more difficult when the new work is taking from copyrighted material for commercial use. Hectorromero (talk) 23:57, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Maybe if there was a form of protection for those attacked by threats of lawsuits that are rightly fair using material. What sort of reasonable safeguard can there be to protect people from intimidation brought by the label companies? The solution may also save the courts big money by cutting out a portion of cases labeled under frivolous. There may be a lack of faith in the American judiciary system if we believe that the less fortunate are underrepresented and protected. Rsryan (talk) 00:06, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Question 2[edit]

One of the articles I'm presenting on tells that 24% of all traffic online is from filesharing. I think this speaks volumes in terms of what the public wants. We've seen success in the war against drugs through decriminilization. Instead of wasting money pursuing noncommerical filesharing, government should reallocate resources to pursue only those who make money from pirating (through grey market or black market sales of illegitimate media). Dlchu1230 (talk) 20:39, 3 February 2011 (UTC) Featured Comment PatBerger (talk) 00:38, 9 February 2011 (UTC)


That is interesting because I found an article that suggests 30 to 50 percent of online traffic consists of peer to peer file sharing. This is a good example to use in determining what the public wants because of the variety in the increasing number of people using software like BitTorrent to knowingly, illegally obtain goods for free. Because this form of consumption is becoming increasingly popular, I believe we're headed in a direction in which the public simply won't want to pay, for example, for any movies or music of any kind. I think this technology is very innovative and may even lead the way in the progress of digital distribution, so preventing it's use when it is used by millions to share information and content is ignorant in that it is simply preventing further innovation and slowing the development of future technology. So, while software like this will continue to be used for file sharing and copyright law becomes more frequently ignored by more and more people, we are going to need to find a way to appease the developing wants of the public while at the same time ensuring profits or some form of incentive to fuel the creativity of the producers of the content being shared. Whatever direction we do choose to pursue, it seems as if it is going to be copyright law, not the public's behavior, that will require the most significant changes. Gunheim (talk) 22:26, 6 February 2011 (UTC)


Vastly decreasing the length of copyright protection would be a great first step in "fixing" copyright law. I would also argue that it would be a step that would put the law more in line with public wants, even if we don't know exactly what those are. By limiting copyright terms and enabling more free use of these works, the public would then be able to do what they wished, whatever that may be.

Limiting the term of copyright would also reinforce to the publishers the idea that they need to not treat pirates as potential customers. Most of these people would not buy the work, even if they had no other means of obtaining it. The problem for publishers is not to limit piracy, but to create works that people are more likely to buy. --Amlz (talk) 23:01, 7 February 2011 (UTC)


As previous posters have suggested, one of the ways to look at public want would be to look at the sheer amount of internet traffic dedicated to file-sharing. However accounting for people's preferences outside the digital realm can be difficult and outright impossible save for rigorous polling. I would even go as far to argue that even polling may not accurately show public want because copyright laws have been convoluted to the extent that an ordinary citizen may not even know when he is breaking the law. Rather than concerning ourselves with what the public want is when it comes to copyright law, a better approach would be to critically examine the claims made by publishers and how their actions impact the general public's ability to enjoy works published. Their support of even more strict copyright laws is motivated by pure profit rather than them looking out for the creator. Instead of allowing publishers to financially benefit from one single popular work that is copyrighted for a century, we should make laws that limit copyright to provide incentives for them to publish more works and thus add to the human knowledge. Akawow (talk) 09:06, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

I think that the rules regarding copyright are surprisingly concise. Without room in the law for interpretation we would have a much more rigid binary of right and wrong. The founding fathers created the Constitution as a living breathing document that could change and morph along with the conutry is represented. That being said, the criteria for Fair Use are staightforward and leave opportunity for interpretation which is in the spirit of the consitution. 136.152.165.115 (talk) 22:17, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

I do agree that the laws surrounding copyright today are concise in comparison with many areas of American laws, but I think that much of American law as a whole is much more complicated than it should be. Defending from fair use litigation is such an expensive venture and has enough inherent uncertainty that few people are willing to do so. It has always seemed to me that an average person when confronted with a demand to takedown or legally defend themselves should be able to choose the latter option if they legitimately believe that their use is protected without going bankrupt in the process. I think that it is pretty much prima facie proof that the system is overly complicated if this is not the case, although the solution may be simplifying the legal process rather than simplifying the actual law. (I think that common law systems with their reliance on jurisprudence established through case law instead of codified law are probably especially likely to become overcomplicated, especially when confronted with new technology.) Kgorman-ucb (talk) 23:21, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Previous responders have cited the large proportion of Internet traffic dedicated to file sharing. That indicates how obvious many consumers' wants are regarding how they obtain media or other files — they want it in large volumes, they want ownership as it is guaranteed under copyright law without further restrictions, nobody wants exorbitant prices, etc. I believe a viable model for legitimate distribution based on established paradigms of illicit file sharing is possible but unlikely in an intimidating, corporatist environment. Another one of the public's wants is illustrated by opposition to Disney's interest in owning perennial copyright of its characters: reducing how long copyright lasts. As it is, these lengths of time seem prohibitively long to be of use or benefit to anybody. Public wants can be determined by observing how they circumvent excessive payments and adapting, and by finding solutions to completely eliminate any creative stifling caused by today's copyright law. Hmanes (talk) 23:39, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

How to determine the want of the public in terms of copyright? Well, since copyright laws would be tailored to the wants of the people I assume that it would be a governmental entities responsibility to discover this amount correct? Because internet fads fluctuate, I think this task of discovering what people want will be close to impossible. To accurately define what the people want you would have to measure the "fads" and the beginning of their life cycle because by measuring the people's desire at the end means the interest of the population is about to shift. Now a life cycle could be relatively short but can also span over several years. This concept is known as the product life-cycle in marketing and, much like the proposed task of the government, it defines what products the general population is interested in. (Along with marketing campaigns and so on...)Gorozco1 (talk) 00:33, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

My brief comment is that the majority is not always right. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 169.229.100.193 (talk) 00:59, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I think that the rules regarding copyright are surprisingly concise. Without room in the law for interpretation we would have a much more rigid binary of right and wrong. The founding fathers created the Constitution as a living breathing document that could change and morph along with the conutry is represented. That being said, the criteria for Fair Use are staightforward and leave opportunity for interpretation which is in the spirit of the consitution. 136.152.165.115 (talk) 22:17, 8 February 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aeforrest (talkcontribs)