Blog Post #3: Copyright and the First Amendment
Access to information in today's society has become more of a commodity than in previous years, decades, and so on. The digitial world has made access to information more of a commodity than a U.S. constitutional right. "Librarians [are] targeted in [the] latest copyright battles". One the one side, librarians, the defenders of informational first amendment rights, on the other side, the publishers, those who own the copyrights to said information. The power struggle ensues when the two sides go head-to-head regarding the accessible rights to copyrighted information. "Fair use" to copyrighted information is what the two sides hold over each other's heads.
There are currently four factors [that are] considered in order to determine whether specific [information] is to be considered "fair use." These factors are: "1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes, 2. the nature of the copyrighted work, 3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and 4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." (Fair Use in Copyright (BitLaw))
The above factors attributed to the "fair use" of information, in my opinion, heavily defend the librarians' side of the battle, for aren't librarians' desires to gather and have information applied to "nonprofit educational purposes"? I ask the following questions: 1. Why is there a limitation on the access of information in the United States? 2. Is the United States society not tailored around freedoms such as stated in the U.S. consitional amendments, and why does access to information not apply in this case? 3. Is not the limitation of access to information "unconstitutional"?
The first amendment of the U.S. constitution clearly states that, "The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable...To subject the press [or for that matter, the public] to the restrictive power of a licenser, as was formerly done, both before and since the Revolution, is to subject all freedom of sentiment to the prejudices of one man, and make him the arbitrary and infallible judge of all controverted points in learning, religion and government".
(Findlaw: U.S. Constitution: First Amendment: Annotations pg. 6 of 21)
So, why do publishers feel that they can change U.S. constitutional law? Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't the U.S. pride itself on "freedom"? If monetary value is placed on freedom, is freedom no longer "free", but non-existent? I believe that the U.S. has to weigh how it truly gauges things...Is placing monetary value on supposed freedom more important than freedom itself? And, it copyrighting materials a freedom? A freedom for who?