I just finished reading the report Will Fair Use Survive? Free Expression in the Age of Copyright Control
. It is a bit long, but worth reading if you are interested in copyright. Some of what I noticed in the report is below. I am feeling lazy, so forgive me if it is incoherent.
The report presents case studies, surveys, and interviews which show that copyright often has a chilling effect on creativity. It does not promote creativity as it was meant to. One illuminating statement from the report:
Tony White has also been educating himself about copyright law, "but what I find discouraging is, the more you learn about copyright and fair use, the more of a chilling effect it has on your creative expression. Greater education about this topic, for artists, seems to have a chilling effect."
There is much discussion of copyright holders using copyright to try kill criticism of their work. Often, the users of the work had strong fair use claims, but litigation was used as a threat. Because litigation is so risky and expensive, critics will often give in instead of taking the risk of being sued.
Copyright owners often use copyright to prevent uses of their works they do not agree with. This is, certainly, one of their rights. In my opinion, copyright holders should be required to be neutral. They should be required to license their works to anyone willing to pay for the rights, even if the work is used in ways they do not approve. If you do not want your work appropriated by the culture, do not release it publicly.
The article also reports that scholars are often frustrated in their work because photographs of public domain paintings are copyrighted. This seems rather silly to me. If a work is public domain and a photo is taken of it and the photo is nothing more than a photographic reproduction of the work (just the work, not used creatively), it should not be under copyright.
The report discusses how fair use is unclear, especially for pictures and movies. What is fair use of a movie? Is the image of a single frame fair use? A short snippet of audio? A short snippet of audio with accompanying video? What about pictures? Can, as discussed in the report, a photograph of a copyright mural be used? What about a photograph you take of a painting? What if the picture is just in the background? What if you just use a portion of it? As image becomes a more important part of our culture, what we can do with image likewise becomes more important.