Japan may become the third nation to add Fair Use to their copyright laws. Israel was the second late last year. This is another sign that Fair Use is being asked to do the heavy lifting for legalizing the copying needed to let the internet flourish.
The Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters, led by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, has decided to make a Japanese version of a U.S. copyright law stipulation that allows for the “fair use” of copyrighted works for criticism, analyses, media reporting and research.
The decision was made to make it easier for venture companies to start new businesses, such as developing a rival to Google. The government intends to revise the Copyright Law to include a fair use stipulation as early as next year.
The next challenge is how to make Fair Use easy to use by the masses. Focusing on best practices and building communities that can educate each other in practical fair use tips could go a long way to remove Fair Use from the privy of lawyers and deliver it into the hands of users. Additional orgs like EFF that fight for users rights are needed to back up Fair Use claims. Fair Use is by no means perfect it often takes a lawyer and deep pockets to defend the rights Fair Use grants, real implementation of international Fair Use will need strong support.
PS: It is ironic that Viacom, in the lawsuit with Google, is trying to take the life out of Fair Use just as the rest of the world is starting to adopt it.