OTW Fannews: Exploring fair use

Banner by Lisa of a spraypainted wall reading 'Remix'

  • A recent legal spat over the repurposing of a Beastie Boys song brought discussions of fair use to the fore. xojane claimed “The Beastie Boys versus GoldieBlox battle cuts close to my heart because I love the Beastie Boys, and I love companies developing anti-sexist takes on products, but I also love fair use. And in this particular instance, the Beastie Boys are wrong. The celebration of their fight against GoldieBlox is missing a key component of the situation here, which is that the GoldieBlox video, which perhaps not ethically defensible given the expressed wishes of Adam Yauch, could very well be perfectly legal. And you should want it to be, because fair use and transformative works lie at the heart of so much of art, culture, criticism, and society.”
  • On the Media‘s P.J. Vogt cited similar issues in his discussion. “[I]f you side with Goldieblox, you probably see a hypocrisy here. The Beastie Boys built a career on sampling. How can they then turn around and tell Goldieblox their own work can only be recontextualized with permission?” But he sided with the band until “I spoke to an actual expert, Julie Ahrens, Director of Copyright & Fair Use at Stanford’s Center for Internet & Society. She convinced me that Goldieblox is probably in the right here…After all, while the Goldieblox ad is, in fact, an ad, it’s also a legitimate piece of cultural criticism.”
  • Reap Magazine also tackled the issue of transformative works and came to a similar conclusion. “What fans create in modern transformative works of art today is really an extension of what artists like Duchamp and Warhol did in the past. And as much as some studio producers, artists and writers would like to control spectator reaction from a legal standpoint, that just is not realistic.”

What fair use discussions do you have to share? Write about them on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.