10.19.2011

Fake news shows exemplars of "fair use"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” has won nine straight Emmys as TV’s best talk show. But it has another legacy you probably don’t know about.

Watch any “Daily Show” and count the number of TV, movie and music clips you see or hear during the episode. Ten? Twenty?

While you’re doing that, note how often Stewart makes fun of the subject of the clip. (If he’s talking about CNN or Fox News Channel, this part will be easy.) Do the same for companion show “The Colbert Report.”

Now, guess how often Stewart and Colbert ask their attorneys to clear the rights to all those copyrighted clips.

America’s most acclaimed satirists turn out to also be our most powerful exploiters of “fair use,” the legal loophole that permits use of copyrighted works without the onerous and often expensive process of rights clearance.

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