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January 29, 2007

Piracy and fair use in the eye of the beholder

By Josh Bernoff

Reading Steve Rubel's post on how to stop people stealing blog designs was interesting, but with music and movies getting ripped off left and right why is it at the top of the list to protect blog designs? Obviously because it hits close to home --this is our stuff you're stealing now, not corporate stuff.

This called to mind an experience I had a few years back with peer-to-peer company LimeWire in which an executive there told me the company made its money selling the professional version of its peer-to-peer client. Since LimeWire was widely used to share (steal?) copyrighted music, I had to ask "does anyone use peer-to-peer to steal LimeWire's professional version." The LimeWire guy was shocked, shocked!, at the idea that people would steal code -- the fruit of their labors.

The same sort of irony came to the fore when YouTube threatened TechCrunch over its articles about tools that allows people to download videos from YouTube.

This leads me to the following definitions:

Fair use is when I use your content.

Piracy is when you use my content.

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