Thursday, January 27, 2005

Online Fair Use Conditional to DRM

Fair use is a whole different ball game online. According to a decision by a German court the publication of excerpts for scholarly purposes falls under the copyright exemption for eductation, but the same publication on the internet should be protected by technological measures.

A professor of mathematics had used two lengthy passages in his college script from the German comedian Karl Valentin in order to illustrate his studentes the notion of chance and the subjectiveness of events occuring. The Court underscribed that the scholarly copyright exemption allowed this kind of use to make education more accessable and understandable. However, this exemption (a fair use) should be restricted to the hard copies the professor disseminated of his lecture. He was not allowed to put the same lecture on the internet without implementing access controls or limiting the possibility of making copies from the excerpts.

This decision seems to be a compromise between the professor and the copyrightsholders of the late Karl Valentin. A compromise, which is more than questionable. It sets conditions for fair use that go right against educational purposes. If the internet and digital documents provide one thing it is the easy accessability and copyability of educational materials. This was not even a claim of fair use for materials already technically protected, like in other court cases related to CDs and DVDs. The decision goes a step further, and sets a precedent that non-protected materials should be technically protected if published online. If the idea was to strike a balance between copyrightsholder's and educational interests, the weight has shifted further to the first instead. The copyright world has finallly turned upside down.

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Thru (German)


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