Stanford Takes Up Case Against AP
Well, if Google (or any number of other cost-conscious corporations) isn’t going to do something about overreaching copyright enforcement, it may be up to nonprofits and legal scholars at our best law schools. First up, a pair of acronyms, next Congress for encouraging them.
Okay, maybe not Congress just yet. But fresh on the heels of Harvard Law taking it to the RIAA over the recording industry’s litigation scare tactics against the nation’s universities and assumed pirate students. When the best profs at Harvard Law come after you, you know you’re in big, big trouble.
The AP is facing similar intimidating opposition from the other coast, this time from Stanford Law and San Francisco-based Durie Tangri Lemley Roberts & Kent, who just filed a lawsuit against the Associated Press. The suit seeks a declaration from the court that Shepard Fairey’s artistic transformation of an AP photograph of Barack Obama is fair use. The suit also seeks an injunction against the AP from further action against Fairey or anyone else using or displaying his work—perhaps like the Smithsonian, at the moment.
“There should be no doubt about the legality of Fairey’s work,” said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project and lecturer in law at Stanford Law School, who is leading Fairey’s legal team. “He used the photograph for a purpose entirely different than the original, and transformed it dramatically.
“The original photograph is a literal depiction of Obama, whereas Fairey’s poster creates powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message that has no analogue in the original photograph. Nor has Fairey done any harm to the value of the original photograph. Quite the opposite; Fairey has made the photograph immeasurably more valuable.”
Stanford and company become strong allies to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the nonprofit legal organization that went fishing for YouTube plaintiffs last week to join the DMCA abuse fight against Warner Music Group.
Why are law schools and nonprofit organizations having to step in? Because these are areas where Google’s high-priced lawyers apparently fear to tread. Despite the inherent benefit each fair use precedent would offer Google’s business model (and scores of others on the net), the cost of litigating against major media companies is higher than cutting a licensing deal.
And that’s exactly what media lawyers are counting on.
In case you missed it. Though the RIAA, MPAA, AP, etc., didn’t really need any help going after alleged copyright infringement, you Congress (including then Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden) made it a lot easier for them just before the election in a unanimous Senate vote.