Newly Launched: The Fair Use Network


This is the site we've all been waiting for, the hub of "all things fair use," a newly launched online resource tailored for artists, scholars and creative people that includes practical resources, reference guides and glossaries, a budding attorney network, and a nifty newsfeed in the left sidebar generated by their internal blog.... brought to you by the folks at the Free Expression Policy Project @ the Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law.

via their homepage:

About Us
The Fair Use Network provides information to activists, artists, scholars, and anyone else who has questions about "IP" (intellectual property) law. Our basic purpose is to support fair use and other free expression safeguards within the law, because free expression is essential to creativity, culture, and a healthy democracy.

The Fair Use Network is part of the Free Expression Policy Project (FEPP), a program of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.  It grew out of the findings and recommendations in FEPP's 2005 report, Will Fair Use Survive? Free Expression in the Age of Copyright Control.  The report found massive confusion among artists, scholars, and others about fair use, and a need for pro bono legal help and comprehensible resource materials.


A Bit of Background
In the last few decades, the rights of copyright and trademark owners to control the use of their works has increased dramatically.  Corporations have lobbied successfully for longer copyright terms and expanded their control over trademarks through legal doctrines such as "trademark dilution" They also have used cease and desist letters and section 512 takedown notices to try to stop legitimate, fair uses of copyrighted materials, or well-known trademarks, for such purposes as criticism and parody.

The enhancement of IP owners' powers has come at the expense of those who build upon, critique, or make other creative, scholarly, or political uses of existing works. The wholesale shift of rights from the public's to the owner's side of the scale has fundamentally changed the delicate balance in IP law that makes creativity and informed political debate possible.

The combination of rapidly shifting laws and new technologies has left many people uncertain about their rights as users.  In the face of uncertainty, many individuals and groups have understandably steered a conservative path around possible legal landmines. Unfortunately, this response fails to take advantage of significant rights that users retain, even today--first and foremost, the rights to fairly use trademarks or copyrighted material.

Why the Fair Use Network?
How much can you borrow, quote or copy from someone else's work? What happens if you get a "cease and desist" letter from a copyright owner? These and many other questions make "intellectual property," or "IP" law, a mass of confusion for artists, scholars, journalists, bloggers, and everyone else who contributes to culture and political debate.

The Fair Use Network was created because of the many questions that artists, writers, and others have about "IP" issues. Whether you are trying to understand your own copyright or trademark rights, or are a "user" of materials created by others, the information here will help you understand the system--and especially its free-expression safeguards.

If you have received a "cease and desist" letter from a copyright or trademark owner, or a notice from your Internet service provider about a "takedown" letter, you'll also find useful information on this site.