Wednesday, January 13, 2010

World Fair Use Day-International aspects

Events were held in Washington DC this week to celebrate World Fair Use Day. Canadian filmmaker Brett Gaylor noted that the name of the day is a bit of a misnomer, since only the US and Israel have "fair use" provisions in their law; the Canadian counterpart, and the principle in many countries around the world, is called 'fair dealing'. Michael Geist makes an important note on this today. Many of the discussions at the Washington events were focused on fair use in the US, but international aspects arose on a few occasions.

Panelists at a discussion on ACTA Monday night noted the importance of exporting not only protections for copyright holders, but also the exceptions and limitations to copyright that ensure copyright law encourages innovation, that it is balanced, that it reflects how people want and need to use works, and that it is respected. They expressed concern that ACTA, if it focuses only on ratcheting up the rights of copyright holders without focusing also on exceptions and limitations, might set a narrow path going forward that would be detrimental to not only balance in copyright around the world, but also to the current and future flexibility of American law. See Rebecca Tushnet's' blog for more of the discussion.

At a lunchtime discussion with Peter Jaszi and Anthony Falzone, I asked the question: should fair use be internationalized, and if so how? The discussion was blogged here ("Sarah Bannerman from GWU"). The panelists gave a thoughtful response, expressing caution about exporting a US-based approach and fears that the harmonization process might actually impose limits on the flexibilities and limitations that countries can include in their law. However, they also noted, as did the panelists Monday night, the importance of including balance and room for limitations and exceptions in any harmonization process.