Thursday, January 11, 2007

Spocko case raises important copyright issues

As a writer whose copyright has been violated, I stand firmly in the camp that seeks stiff punishment for copyright violators. You will note that there are no photos on this blog that I have not taken myself, and no full works that are not here without permission of the author. I also think that refusing to violate copyrights has cost me, in terms of blog content, but so be it.

I have mixed feelings about KSFO, however, in its insistence that blogger Spocko violated the station's copyright by publishing clips of their talk shows on his blog without getting permission to do so. To be sure, Spocko's campaign was a worthy one; in fact, I consider him a kind of hero, and I applaud MasterCard, Bank of America and Visa for removing their ads from KSFO after Spocko revealed the chronic hate content of KSFO's talk shows.

Does Spocko have any legal wiggle room, in regard to both the copyright violation charge and his IPS's shutdown of his blog? I believe he may. The standard of Fair Use is very tricky, and writers must be very careful not to bend Fair Use to suit their own needs. If I quote small parts of what someone else has written, I am not violating the author's copyright, according to Fair Use. If the audio clips Spocko used did not represent lengthy portions of talk shows, but only a few sentences, it seems that he, too, would have been safe, insofar as Fair Use is concerned. But I do not know how long the clips were, and it is entirely possible that he did violate KSFO's copyright. Media Matters for America describes the clips as "brief," which leads me to believe that Spocko has a case.

I would like to think that Spocko's case will make bloggers and other writers think twice before they violate--intentionally or otherwise--someone's copyright. There appears to be almost no understanding at all of copyright issues. I have been repeatedly insulted by people who violated my copyright once I have informed them of it; to a great number of people, especially on the Worldwide Web, Fair Use means "I'll steal any damned thing I please, and if you complain, there is something wrong with you."


Fair Use isn't determined by length of what you use - as I think you allude to when you say it's tricky. It's a multi-part test in which length is one factor.

By Blogger Skye, at 9:20 AM  

I didn't intend to mislead; of course, fair use, as you say, is determined by many factors. However, in this particular case, length is probably the significant one.

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