Two Famous Journalism Institutions Shame Themselves By Not Standing Up For Basic Fair Use

Mike Masnick | Techdirt | February 11, 2013

Two of the most respected and forward looking schools for journalism are the Knight Center for Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the Poynter Institute. I've long been a fan of both, but I'm now quite disappointed in both of them too. Last week, we had a few stories concerning a woman named Teri Buhl, who (to put it mildly) had some "unique" (and, by that we mean "totally wrong") legal theories concerning whether or not someone could quote her public statements on Twitter, as well as basic copyright and fair use rules. By the end of the week, she was threatening to sue us and others as well.

We are familiar with our fair use rights, and we think such rights are an important part of the law. In fact, fair use is frequently cited by courts as one of the key "safety valves" that ensures copyright does not violate the First Amendment. Fair use is of utmost importance in the act of journalism, and historically, news organizations have been some of the most zealous defenders of fair use. Section 107 of the Copyright Act explicitly calls out "news reporting" as one of the key areas where fair use applies. Given that, one would hope that these two giants of journalism education would stand up for fair use.

But last week, both failed to do so....