From James Joyce to Harry Potter, the importance of fair use

Anthony Falzone is Executive Director of Stanford University’s Fair Use project and has defended fair use as an exception to copyright and a key “safety valve” for free expression in several high-profile cases.  Anthony has argued successfully for fair use in the case of the Joyce scholar whose attempt to publish letters by Lucia Joyce was opposed by the Joyce estate and in defense of a short excerpt from the John Lennon song “Imagine” used in the Ben Stein movie “Expelled” and opposed by Yoko Ono.  He also defended the Harry Potter Lexicon against an infringement claim by JK Rowling and is currently representing the street artist who made the iconic Barack Obama HOPE poster.

Falzone will talk about these cases and the importance of fair use for scholars and universities in a talk at Duke on MARCH 2, 2009 in the Schiciano Auditorium (Fitzpatrick CIEMAS engineering building) at 5 pm.  He will emphasis that fair use is vital in higher education not only to prevent copyright from stifling scholarship but also to support free speech and academic freedom.  His lecture is entitled “From James Joyce To Harry Potter And John Lennon:  The Impact Of Fair Use On Scholarship And Free Expression.”  A reception will follow.

This event is open to the whole Duke community, but it is especially relevant for scholars and teachers who rely on fair use to create their own scholarship or to distribute scholarly works to students and colleagues, as well as to those interested in the role of free speech in the academy.

If anyone doubts the importance of fair use for academics in all kinds of situations, this blog post by Middlebury College professor Jason Mittell offers a couple of interesting lessons.  First, his reliance on fair use, and especially the transformative nature of his use of the screen captures he describes, is an important reminder of how often scholarship is dependent on fair use.  As has often been noted on this site, transformative uses have gotten a lot of favor by our courts recently, which is a tremendous advantage for scholars like Mittell.  But the downside is his encounter with Disney, which would not give Mittell permission for the cover art for his book unless he also paid copyright fees for all the illustrations inside, even though the latter were all very likely to be fair use.

To most of us, at least some aspects of Mittell’s story seem surprising or unfair; this is precisely why Tony Falzone’s lectures promise to be such an important and eye-opening event.

Falzone’s lecture will be repeated at UNC Chapel Hill on March 3 at 5:30 pm in the Wilson Library. These events are jointly sponsored by UNC University Library, Duke University Libraries, UNC’s Center for Media Law and Policy, and Triangle Research Libraries Network

One thought on “From James Joyce to Harry Potter, the importance of fair use”

  1. Hi Kevin, will this lecture be available via podcast or streaming? Or do I have to come to NC to hear it? (That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing!)

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