Saturday, December 19, 2009

How (some) copyright owners think

Exclusive Rights has an intriguing post, puzzlingly titled On actively encouraging fan infringement and commercial success (Put a Ring on It). It argues persuasively that in some circumstances copyright owners not only tolerate certain types of remix but actively encourage it. The puzzling thing--okay, the oxymoronic thing--is the label "infringement" for that. When a copyright owner induces copying or the creation of derivative works, I had always thought we called that "licensing." The license may well be implicit, but it's still a license. (Compare the RIAA's rhetoric about putting one's CD collection on one's mp3 player--they say that it "won't usually raise concerns" though there's no right to do so; they want to have the right to object, which is to say they want to be able to pull the license.) When we're at the point of calling authorized uses infringing because that increases copyright owners' perceived freedom of movement, we are really down the rabbit hole.

(I have also, of course, set aside the fair use issues and the question whether the copyright owner could actually assert rights to stop all the uses the post mentions.)

2 comments:

SueR said...

I tried to click on the link you gave to the post, but it gives a message saying the post can't be found, and doing a search on the title returns the same results. Did they pull it?

Rebecca Tushnet said...

SueR: Hmm, I can't find it either. Possibly so!