On “shooting creatives” and “winning eventually”

Copyright law is everywhere these days, even in the popular (i.e., non-specialized) press.  And it’s in the pop press where things get interesting:  all of the legal niceties that IP legal specialists drone at each other quickly get reduced to bracing, real-world takeaways.

Take this recent piece by Roger Moore, a movie critic for the Orlando Sentinel, who makes some unintentionally wonderful arguments for copyright reform:

Orlando attorney John Rizvi of Gold & Rizvi, P.A., specializes in [intellectual property] law, and he spends part of his time shooting down what creative people think they know about copyright and that nebulous concept known as “fair use.”

Stop right there.  Did he say “shooting down” and “what creative people think” in the same sentence?  This already sounds like promoting science and the useful arts to me.

Sigh.  What else?

Moore also quotes from Marshall Leaffer, a “Distinguished Scholar in Intellectual Property Law at Indiana University and the author of ‘Understanding Copyright Law'”:

Leaffer cited as an example [of fair use in action] a conceptual artist who made and sold photographs of Barbie dolls posed in provocative ways. He was just doing a parody, right? He figured he’d be safe.

“Mattel sued him,” Leaffer said, referring to the doll’s maker. “He won. Eventually. But it cost him a lot of money.”

Let me reemphasize what Leaffer skips right past.  The artist won. Using Barbie was a fair use.  But the artist only won “eventually”.  And “it cost him a lot of money”.

What can we take away from Moore’s article?  I humbly submit we should reform the monstrocity that is U.S. copyright law.  Why?

  1. We need to stop shooting down creative people.
  2. We need to make sure that artists acting well within their rights simply win, not “eventually” and after years of financially ruinous litigation.

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