Fair use has a posse

That is one of my favorite slogans.  I work in instructional technology at a college and I deal with the gray world of copyright often when I am trying to guide faculty in the right side of the law.  It’s a murky landscape to navigate through and part of the reason it has gotten so bad comes from people being so greedy about copyrighting stuff that everyone should have access to.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about intellectual property but there are somethings that shouldn’t be able to be copyrighted, period.  I blame Disney the most in this simply because they would have lost rights to their coveted Mickeys years ago if they hadn’t fought, and succeeded in extending copyright time frames.

What does any of this have to do with me growing a garden in my backyard?  Well, it’s perfectly related because of the jackassery recently displayed by the Dervaes Family of Pasadena, CA.  They have been practicing Urban Homesteading for many years now…..but they didn’t invent the concept.  Sure, they have the domain urbanhomestead(dot)org but that doesn’t mean they should have been given the rights to own copyright of the term itself.  Urban Homesteading is a movement, not a place or brand.  There is a new page on facebook that follows the new developments in this ridiculous story.  Thankfully, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stepped in and is representing the great people who wrote The Urban Homestead book that I love.  Also, these great people didn’t try to copyright the term and they host an awesome blog too:)

If you want to try to understand copyright a bit more here is a fun little comic that covers the basics.

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