This, We Get

September 8th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

By our estimation, copyright law has been around a long time. Yet it continues to evolve in new and different ways. While those of us who are fascinated by this stuff get a continual fix of information, others may find themselves scrambling to keep up with rapid changes. For those fine folks, we suggest that the wind will change tomorrow.

For authors, the fair use concept has been entrenched for some time. We once read a thread on a list where a group of published authors debated how many words from a song could be used before the Fair Use Police grew interested. For some reason, we vaguely recall the number as seven. Do not rely upon us for accuracy in this instance. There are lawyers and such who are more qualified to address this topic.

So it is interesting to us that there are established rules (which are like writing rules in that nobody seems to know what they are) relating to the fair use of song lyrics, but not for the underlying music. While the court suggests that artists license all works they sample (and we agree a license doesn’t stifle creativity), there are costs and legal hoops involved — these may be beyond the reach of artists not backed by major labels. And if this loophole in copyright law is closed, will that affect other established rulings regarding fair use?

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