The website http://www.benedict.com/ contains summaries of cases pending in the United States involving the use of internet and the issue of copyright. Interesting cases involve the Google Book Search Project and the Viacom vs. Youtube squabble over SpongeBob. To my mind, the kind of issues being raised in these and other recent cases in the US indicate a narrowing of the doctrine of “fair use”.
185.1. The fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching including multiple copies for classroom use, scholarship, research, and similar purposes is not an infringement of copyright. Decompilation, which is understood here to be the reproduction of the code and translation of the forms of the computer program to achieve the inter-operability of an independently created computer program with other programs may also constitute fair use. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is fair use, the factors to be considered shall include:
(b) The nature of the copyrighted work;
(c) The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(d) The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The criteria enumerated (purpose and character of use etc) in Section 185.1 is actually from the landmark case of Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539 (1985) regarding the memoirs of former President Gerald R. Ford. Excerpts of said memoirs were published by The Nation Magazine to the prejudice of Harper and Row (publisher of Ford) who had an exclusive contract to publish excerpts of the memoirs with Time Magazine.
Because of the similarity of the text with the criteria in Harper and Row, there is a strong temptation to apply the doctrine of adoption of interpretation based on the foreign origin of the statutory text. In other words, since the text is borrowed from American statute books, American jurisprudence has great persuasive value in this jurisdiction.
BRYAN A. SAN JUAN
Entry No. 3