Argument by Analogy

In some other countries, the line between fair and unfair use is more defined than in the United States, and as a result, these countries have reduced costs and damages from intellectual property rights litigation. The Spanish Intellectual Property Act states that the “author’s rights are to be limited only ‘in cases this law provides,’” these limitations were specified in the statute “narrowly” so they would only apply to certain “circumstances” (“Fair Use and Fair Dealing in Foreign Countries”). Similar to Spain, Begium has no guidelines for fair use, but rather states specific exceptions to copyright infringement (“Questionnaire on Copyright”). In contrast, the United States does have a law which provides four factors from which a work can be considered fair use and exempt from copyright infringement. Of these four factors, three of them can be found in the exemptions listed in the Belgian and Spanish Copyright laws. There are also other “additional exemptions” which are “narrowly crafted and apply only under specified circumstances, to narrow classes of works, and for specifically defined activities,” just like the Belgian and Spanish Copyright laws  (“Fair Use and Fair Dealing in Foreign Countries”). The Spanish and Belgian Copyright laws have specific exemptions for fair use; the United States should adopt more specifically defined exemptions for the use of copyrighted material.

The purpose of The Statute of Anne, which put forth the first law regarding copyright, was to prevent the financial “ruin of authors and their families” which “too often” came about due to the “practice of pirated publication” (Leval). Statistically, in a study performed between 2000 and 2010, the United States showed that litigation involving patents, a type of copyright, had extremely high damages that were being debated within the case, as well as average costs of a lawsuit falling between 1 million and 10 million Euros, this would be between $1.2 million and $12 million during this indicated time period. During this same period of time, both Belgium and Spain experienced low damages while amounting to average costs that fell between 50 thousand and 100 thousand Euros, this would be between $60.6 thousand and $121.2 thousand (Graham and Zeebroeck).

This success in the reduction of the average cost and damage from intellectual property litigation in Belgium and Spain can be applied to the United States due to the similarity in the copyright laws between these countries. It is quite possible for the United States to modify its Copyright law to be more specific, and thus promote better understanding of the parameters of the Fair Use Doctrine. The specifically defined exemptions of Belgium and Spain have helped these countries greatly reduce the damages and costs of intellectual property litigation and similar, clear definitions of the limits of fair use should be implemented in the U.S. Copyright Law.

The confusion surrounding the Fair Use Doctrine also presents a moral issue. The Catholic Church is considered by many to be a leader in the promotion of human rights with numerous charities throughout the world dedicated to providing for those in need and advocating for nations to serve the needs of their people. “All people,” according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “have a right to life and to secure the basic necessities of life.” For this reason, the Church “locates intellectual property rights within the broader framework of common good,” as these rights are meant to ensure a necessary component of life, “economic security” (“A Catholic Framework for Economic Life”). However, the confusion of average citizens and judges in regards to the meaning of fair use in the Fair Use Doctrine can cause moral dilemmas and destabilize financial security.


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