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Constitutional Law

2010

Jury

Faculty Publications

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Judges Playing Jury: Constitutional Conflicts In Deciding Fair Use On Summary Judgment, Ned Snow Dec 2010

Judges Playing Jury: Constitutional Conflicts In Deciding Fair Use On Summary Judgment, Ned Snow

Faculty Publications

Issues of fair use in copyright cases are usually decided at summary judgment. But it was not always so. For well over a century, juries routinely decided these issues. The law recognized that fair use issues were highly subjective and thereby inherently factual — unfit for summary disposition by a judge. Today, however, all this has been forgotten. Judges are characterizing factual issues as purely legal so that fair use may be decided at summary judgment. Even while judges acknowledge that reasonable minds may disagree on these issues, they characterize the issues as legal, preventing them from ever reaching a …