This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while – the incorrect, misleading, and fearmongering copyright statements made by many media. That statement is a bit soft. In reality, the media companies lie about their rights to control content in an attempt to instill fear in their customers. The author of “The Tech Industry Wants You To Support The Fight For Fair Use” points to the NFL’s statement that you are not even allowed to discuss the game without permission. By overstating their rights, these companies harm the copyright regiegm that has been completely designed to assist their business. The sad part is that there is no need to overstate their rights. The truth is enough for their honest customer, and the shameful statements will not deter their dishonest ones.
With this in mind, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Oracle et al) filed a complaint with the FTC arguing that the statements made by many rigthtsholders are deceptive to the point of being illegal. Specifically, all of these notices disregard any notion of fair use in the law, such as this warning commonly found at the beginning of DVDs:
Well, yes, if you pirate the DVD, there are penalties. But what of the acting professor who wants to record some short (1-2 minute) clips of scenes to show in class as examples or digitize some classroom material VHS tapes because they are 15 years old and degrading quickly? This is a real world example that came up for me two days ago. I gave the professor an old Dazzle DV bridge and told him to go for it. Will he go to prison for cutting out a 50 second snippet of Sweeney Todd to put on his thumb drive and carry to show in class? Of course not – but if convincing even people with PhDs that making a backup of short educational use clips is perfectly within the law is a hard sell, imagine what the average person must think copyright law actually says. If they have been reading the DVD warnings, they might be inclined to turn in their professor thinking that if what he is doing carries a 5 year federal sentence and a $250,000 fine, there might just be a reward for being the snitch (FYI, there will fine, jail time, or reward. It is all legal and you have been lied to in a criminally negligent manner. At least that is how the argument goes.)
You can learn more at the CCIA’s web site, Defend Fair Use.
On a related note, here is a nice entry about the mis-statement of resale rights after the first sale.