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Media Savvy: Parody Maker's Copyright Fight With Media Giants Takes Fair Turn

Publication Date: 
August 28, 2007
Sacramento Bee
Sam McManis

The Executive Director of the Fair Use Project Anthony Falzone is quoted in a Sacramento Bee story discussing the differences between fair use and non-fair use of copyrighted material:

"Viacom has proven to be fairly reasonable," says Anthony Falzone, director of the Fair Use Project. "So I wouldn't point to Viacom as the poster child of fair-use abuse -- anymore. But there are a lot of other cases out there."

Yet, even Falzone says that the Copyright Act of 1976, which put fair use on the books, can be nebulous.

"As a general matter, if you're using small snippets of copyrighted material to say something about them -- critiquing, commenting, making a parody -- then you're off to a good start. We lawyers call that 'transformative' uses -- making something new out of others' material."


Falzone says there are some cases that come to the Fair Use Project that it won't represent because the case is weak. Example: Internet users who post videos from programs in full, without commentary.

"We realize fair use has its limits," Falzone says. "It's not a license to take copyrighted material and do whatever the heck you want with it."

What the Fair Use Project and Electronic Frontiers Foundation hope to guard against is corporations using cease-and-desist letters as cudgels to smite those who have a legitimate reason for using copyrighted material.