2024-04-18 14:36:13
COPYRIGHT JUNGLE By Siva Vaidhyanathan theory

CJR September/October 2006 – Copyright Jungle:

COPYRIGHT JUNGLE By Siva Vaidhyanathan

in recent years — thanks to the ferocious mania to protect everything and the astounding political power of media companies — the basic, democratic checks and balances that ensured that copyright would not operate as an instrument of private censorship have been seriously eroded. The most endangered principle is fair use: the right to use others’ copyrighted works in a reasonable way to promote important public functions such as criticism or education. And if fair use is in danger then good journalism is also threatened. Every journalist relies on fair use every day. So journalists have a self-interest in the copyright story. And so does our society. Copyright was designed, as the Constitution declares, to “promote the progress” of knowledge and creativity. In the last thirty years we have seen this brilliant system corrupted and captured by the very industries that the old laws fostered. Yet the complexity and nuanced nature of copyright battles make it hard for nonexperts to grasp what’s at stake.

So it’s up to journalists to push deeper into stories in which copyright plays a part. Then the real challenge begins: explaining this messy system in clear language to a curious but confused audience.

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