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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

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.”

Lunchtime listen: “Good Copy Bad Copy”

Happy Friday! Please check out GOOD COPY BAD COPY – a documentary out of Denmark about the current state of copyright and culture. Our good friend Rick Falkvinge of the Swedish Pirate Party makes some extremely valid points about the need to balance individual privacy rights with copyright; right now, content owners like the RIAA and MPAA are stomping on individual privacy rights which is unacceptable to him and to many others. Many others on both sides of the argument make appearances on the film — like Laurence Lessig, Siva Vaidhyanathan, and Dan Glickman (CEO of MPAA).

We’d love to hear your ideas and perspective about file sharing and copyright.