“There’s Evian, then there’s tap water” – Fair Use


“I’ve always felt that personal use (ie among you, your family and friends) should be totally unrestricted”. Thomas Dolby 2007

Some interesting recent discussions about “Fair Use” in the blogosphere.

Also see this post on the i9606 blog and Paper Chase by Craig Powell over at Nature Network.

These and other similar discussions will continue. The stark reality however with regards to p2p file sharing in terms of PDF’s is that this has been happening for years and in my own experience, 90% of Authors that I contact seeking a copy of a PDF results in the file being shared. IMHO, services such as Mendeley provide a means to an end to do this (as in sharing PDF’s) in a much more structed manner.

One of McDawg’s musical hero’s, Thomas Dolby thoughts about “Fair Use” in terms of music can be found here on his blog:-

Posted 2/15/2007
Q: Thomas,
The ubiquitous mix tape (well, the mix CD now.) It’s a staple of fledgling romances all over the planet. People mix up music from their collections, make a compilation, and send it off as a token of love, affection, or misguided passion… I know you, like many musicians, have strong feelings about the illegal reproduction of your music. But what do you say to those folks who want to zap off their emotions in a happy jumble of songs? Is the mix CD evil? Or should it be seen as a way to expand an artist’s audience (while helping some hapless romantic express himself?)

A: I’ve always felt that personal use (ie among you, your family and friends) should be totally unrestricted. That’s the best way to share music, and to discover it. But there’s clearly a huge moral difference between personal use, and wholesale mass pirating, duplication and distribution, to anonymous millions of Internet users. The challenge is, how to fairly use technology or legislation to allow the one and prevent the other? It’s almost impossible to draw the line. And historically, the lobbyists, litigators, and politicians have been way behind the curve.

It takes decades for copyright law to catch up with technology, by which time technology has moved on. This struggle has been going on since the printing press–not to mention audio recording, broadcasting, piano rolls, jukeboxes, cable TV and cassette tapes. While I have always fought against people who disregard the copyright notice on my records and go ahead and rip my music for the purpose of sharing it via illegal P2P networks, I am the first to admit that a certain proportion of music should be and always has been free.

As musicians we need to give out free samples, to get the audience hooked so they will come back for more. It’s the drug dealer model! To that end, we produce music at our own expense and give it to radio stations who make money of the advertising revenue; we produce videos that we give to MTV so they can sell ads to Nike and American Express; we do this to get wide exposure so new fans can discover our music. Without that there will be no demand for any kind of for-sale product. And the Internet is the most effective method yet of getting that exposure. So clearly we need to embrace it. This is a tough time because we’re still at a cusp.

In the end I believe it will all settle down–music will be cheap and easy enough to buy, that the convenience of obtaining music legally will outweigh the few cents you save by pirating it. There’s Evian, then there’s tap water 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: