I’m not a lawyer*, but I play one on the internet.
Since pretty much my whole life online is spent in a perpetual state of snarkasm, I figured it was time for me to actually read some laws about what I do.
This also proves that I’m in a perpetual state of procrastination.
And what with all of this SOPA/PIPA/LMNOP juggernaut happening around my workplace, I figured I could use my wee brain to actually learn something. I read up on the bill going before Congress, tried to understand what it would mean for the internet, and put together a list of resources for which you can learn, too. I’m a giver.
Basically what I’m pretty sure SOPA/PIPA says is that if you or your website or any of your comments include a link to or an actual something with a copyright, your internet service provider can put a blockade on your website. With just an accusation by the copyright holder of fault on your part, your ISP prevents your site from being reached. No cease & desist, no court order, no investigation. BOOM. DONE. Your site is blocked.
But Pangie, what about Fair Use?
Friends, until this week, I had only heard a whiff of what Fair Use really is and how it affects me. Being the investigative journalist I am not, I looked it up.
I don’t think there’s a more vague addendum to a law than that of Fair Use.
Granted, I haven’t spent much time reading actual laws. Just like any Terms & Conditions to which I sign my name, I assume my peachy personality will get me out of being held liable for anything I say and do.
I earn my meager contribution to the family budget with my peachy personality, using images I find on the internet to enhance my hilarity.
According to Fair Use, I’m all good. It’s OK to use images and video in a satirical manner (phrases bolded to draw attention to my point).
The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”
Well well well. It looks to me like, as long as I’m using an image in parody to parody the “work,” no trouble for this girl.
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.
So, there’s no specific rule on what exactly can be used or not used or be legal or illegal?
What the crap, U.S. Government? Where’s the examples of what’s cool and what’s not? I need pictures and illustrations, lawmakers!
Thank Baby Jeebus and Oprah for Stanford University and Google because I found a better explanation:
A parody is a work that ridicules another, usually well-known work, by imitating it in a comic way. Judges understand that, by its nature, parody demands some taking from the original work being parodied. Unlike other forms of fair use, a fairly extensive use of the original work is permitted in a parody in order to “conjure up” the original.
… a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would not be considered an illegal infringement.
But what, pray tel, is the definition of parody?
A parody is a work that ridicules another, usually well-known work, by imitating it in a comic way.
Ridicule while using the original work is permitted.
I play a lawyer on the internet, so I’m thinking, Pangie, you’re all good in the hood doing what you do. You CAN use images to make a comedic point, as long as I’m ridiculing the original work.
As long as I’m making fun of something to make what I post funnier, it’s legal?
My life on the interwebs is saved.
dun dun dunnnnnn…
*I’m really not a lawyer, so take everything I said here with some question in your head that I could be 99% wrong. What you read here cannot be held up in court as any sort of evidence for anything. Except if you need to prove I’m a badass, and then, and only then, can you use this information in any scientifical or lawyerly ways to prove I’m Awesome.