[Athen] YouTube-Copyright-and us ...

Berkowitz, Daniel J djbrky at bu.edu
Fri Oct 27 05:58:13 PDT 2006

Some of you know my interest in issues of copyright (OK - mostly bashing
it). But I try not to pass up an opportunity to learn more about briar
patch known as copyright law.

Wired Magazine has an article briefly explaining why YouTube does not
have the sort of legal issues one would expect from what has been
referred to as the Napster of Video (which it is not). The key passage
herein is:

"...much of the copyrighted material on YouTube is in a legal category
that is new to our age. It's not "fair use," the famous right to use
works despite technical infringement, for reasons of public policy.
Instead, it's in the growing category of "tolerated use"-use that is
technically illegal, but tolerated by the owner because he wants the
publicity. If that sounds as weird as "don't ask, don't tell," you're
getting the idea."

Granted - we frequently refer to "fair use" for our tasks but I rather
like the terminology "tolerated use" as begets our need to scan and
digitize academic works. Could it be that as NIMAS provides a
competitive edge for publishers wishing to get their textbooks into the
K-12 market that a similar postsecondary law could provide incentives
that will allow institutions greater permissible leeway to chop and scan
and digitize?

Take a look at the Fullerton case and consider how every student must
have their texts in a suitable format before faculty cannot make us of
the book in the classroom. There are other similar cases pending and
work is underway to create a postsecondary law similar to NIMAS.
Consider this - publishers build into their sales pitches to
postsecondary faculty that such and such a textbook is also available in
a digital format that will allow the most expedient turn-around-time for
students in need of alternate formats. Maybe publishers will start
sending deskcopies to DSS office in hopes we will make suggestions to
faculty (I can dream, can't I).

Daniel Berkowitz - Assistant Director
Boston University Office of Disability Services
19 Deerfield Street, 2nd floor
Boston, MA 02215

(617) 353-3658 (office)
(617) 353-9646 (fax)
djbrky at bu.edu (eMail)

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