Few issues can engage students' innate sense of justice more than discussions of the existing legal statutes and technological safeguards protecting rights of intellectual property holders. This book, from the Greenhaven series Issues on Trial, focuses on four specific areas of intellectual property law: home videotaping of televised programming, the use of unpublished material by news organizations, the constitutionality of the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, and the legality of distributing software used for peer-to-peer file-sharing.
The book begins with a debate over a revolutionary, but now almost-forgotten technology, that of the videocassette recorder. The section begins with Justice John Paul Stevens' majority opinion, which allowed for public sale of VCRs, that home taping does not infringe copyright. That's contrasted with the dissenting opinion that taping television shows places copyrighted works into the hands of the public without permission on the part of the creators, thus violating copyright law. The last essay in the chapter traces the persistence of online postings of illegal digital copies of current television shows as a phenomena attributable to the latitude granted the viewer in the Sony v. Universal decision.
The balance of individual and commercial interests with the free and open dissemination of the facts is the fundamental issue framing the second segment of the book, one discussing the disclosure of previously unpublished materials deemed to have news value. George Will argues that the right to free speech includes the right to choose where that speech will appear, indicting editors who choose to deny the author the right to choose where their free expression will appear based on either preemptive newsworthiness or the transformative nature of the use. Two essays present a discussion of the limitations of fair use and how fair use doctrine has been evaluated by the Supreme Court.
When the Copyright Extension Act increased the life of copyright for the motion picture and recording industries, that action called into question whether the extension of the copyright term serves the underlying purpose of copyright, to encourage creative work by making it remunerative, or instead serves a corporate interest well after the life of the creator and his heirs. Both arguments are presented here, as are the opinions of copyright critics, including librarians and scholars and academic Eric Eldred, whose award-winning Web site distributing literature in the public domain is frequently cited as an example of a new model for digital publication.
The discussion of file sharing begins with the Supreme Court decision that found software companies that distribute sharing software are liable for infringement of copyright, even if the software has legal uses. Former Congressman Richard K. Armey argues that illegal music download is a kind of theft which will ultimately discourage artists from creating new content, while some content creators feel that file-sharing has earned greater exposure for their work, effectively providing an alternative methods of distribution for musicians outside the studio system. Another essay suggests the legal liability imposed on software creators will stifle the development of new, Internet-enabled file sharing technologies, while another essay counters than non-infringing uses of file sharing programs will keep that an active area of development despite digital rights management concerns.
A well-edited anthology looking at four key issues related to intellectual property. Recommended for school libraries.