Strong Fair Use Rights

Chip and Adam are concerned that defining a set of fair use rights would actually serve to limit fair use. I agree that it would be a problem if fair use rights were defined with narrow specifics as in the DMCA, and think a “fair use bill of rights” should define fair use broadly, just as the Bill of Rights has broad definitions for freedoms of speech and assembly.
Based on experience working to oppose the SDMCA in Texas, I have a different concern from Chip and Adam.
Over the last decade, the content industries have succeeded in stereotyping most personal and creative uses of content as potential theft. We have a big image problem, in the minds of the public and in the minds of legislators, who now think of end-users as thieves.
I don’t think it’s enough to describe user rights in a technical fashion, whether as Adam suggests, as all uses other than redistributing a work, in whole or large part for profit, or whether, Jessica Litman suggests, as a balance shifting back from “thick” copyright protection to “thin” copyright protection.
We need to create a positive, affirmative image of all of the legal, personal, intellectual, creative, and innovative ways that people use content. We need to create an environment where infringing fair use is viewed with the same horror in American culture as infringing free speech.
Only by having a strong, positive image, and broad standard for fair use, can we counter the stereotype that personal and social cultural creativity constitutes stealing.

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