Have you ever found a great recipe in a cookbook and photocopied it? If you have, then you've been exercising your "fair use" rights to copyright. In other words, even though an artist or publisher owns the rights to that book, movie, or song, you can still do a few things with that book even if you don't own it. Like check it out from a library!
Copyright geeks have been abuzz this month because a new report suggests that those few exceptions to copyright are worth big bucks: $507 billion in 2006, nearly 20% of U.S. GDP, to be exact. Or at least so says the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a business group representing such heavy hitters as Microsoft, Apple, and Google.
Okay, so maybe you copying that recipe didn't really spur the creation of new jobs. But the fact that Google, Yahoo, Ask, and their cohorts can crawl through websites (another fair use exception), even though those sites are copyrighted, certainly did. Which begs the question: should we have more exceptions to copyright? After all, the Copyright Clause of the Constitution is meant to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," i.e. spark new ideas and innovations. Perhaps we should even consider shortening the copyright term? What do YOU think?