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Harvard P2P lawyer says file-swapping is fair use

Harvard Law professor Charlie Nesson, in a recent conversation with ArsTechnica, argued that file-swapping is fair use. The context for this conversation was that Nesson and others from harvard Law School are defense attorneys in the case of Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) v. Joel Tenenbaum, a case where the RIAA is suing Tenenbaum for allegedly downloaded seven songs from a file-sharing network. In the interview with ArsTechnica, Nesson was laying out his strategy for the case.

While I — admittedly a non-lawyer! — think this is quite an elegant argument, other “free culture” academics seem puzzled by Nesson’s strategy. Wendy Seltzer, who heads up the Chilling Effects clearinghouse and served as an EFF staff attorney, was quoted as saying, “I fear that we do damage to fair use by arguments that stretch it to include filesharing—weakening our claims to fair use even for un-permissioned transformations. I am much more comfortable disagreeing with the law than claiming at this point in time that it already excuses filesharing.”

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