Revolution Lullabye

May 18, 2009

Rife, “Fair Use,” Copyright Law, and the Composition Teacher

Rife, Martine Courant. “‘Fair Use,’ Copyright Law, and the Composition Teacher.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 145-156.

Rife argues that students and educators need to study fair use within copyright law, because, as she shows by explaining the five Supreme Court cases that deal with fair use, even the court rulings are vague on what exactly is protected under fair use. Fair use allowances have increasingly been restricted so that now you can be in copyright infringment for the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials, not just for making a profit off of them (like selling your term paper.) Rife advocates for composition teachers to be proactive instead of living in fear, leading campaigns to rewrite university guidelines about fair use if they don’t agree with them instead of quietly subverting them.

Notable Notes

overview of fair use US Supreme Court and lower court case (including MGM v. Grokster (2005) and Kinkos case)

court decisions are often based on market impact – public good takes a backseat

copyright protection is automatic and includes four rights: the right to reproduce, publically display, perform, and prepare derivative work. Creative Commons licenses allows authors to opt out of some of those rights.

Lessig: we overrely on fair use to authorize unauthorized use. Instead, change the law from automatic full copyright protection

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