Washington Law Review

Essay

Content, Purpose, or Both?

June 30, 2015 | 90 Wash. L. Rev. 869

Abstract: Most debates about the proper meaning of “transformativeness” in fair use are really about a larger shift towards more robust fair use. Part I of this short Article explores the copyright-restrictionist turn towards defending fair use, whereas in the past critics of copyright’s broad scope were more likely to argue that fair use was too fragile to protect free speech and creativity in the digital age. Part II looks at some of the major cases supporting that rhetorical and political shift. Although it hasn’t broken decisively with the past, current case law makes more salient the freedoms many types of uses and users have to proceed without copyright owners’ authorization. Part III discusses some of the strongest critics of liberal fair use interpretations, especially their arguments that transformative “purpose” is an illegitimate category. Part IV looks towards the future, suggesting that broad understandings of transformativeness are here to stay.

Download Full Essay