The New York Association of Copyright Stakeholders NYASCH, formerly referred to as "New Yorkers for Fair Use", has recently taken on this new identity in order to distinguish itself from the activities of NYFU. Additional information can be viewed on our history page.

© Copyright for the Digital Millennium
All material copyrighted by Ruben Safir and contributors.

Sinced I created I can tell you with certainty is was created by me in July of 2000. I started it after the DeCSS trials and protests here on Pearl Street in Manahattan. The first general membership meeting announcement went out in July of 2001. I started the website and mail list slightly earlier in August of 2000.

The fisrt meeting was at the Harvest Brewery at Union Square, on the second Floor. It was attended by:

Wendy Seltzer: Harvard graduate lawyer and founder of the Open Law Initiative, Noah Sussman - Senior web designer for Deltathree, Sean Aurita, Joe Katz, Forest Mars, Vagn Scott - Regular NYLUG member and co-leader of the Free-Dmitryanti-adobe protests, Lo - Regular NYLUG member, founder of GNUBBIES, graduate of NYU, Japanese translator, JoeAnn Cripps - Regular NYLUG member, Seth Johnson, Ruben Sair

The meeting melted down to a bunch of petty bickering and accomplished almost nothing, other than giving me a lesson on organization.

I had to spend three months nursing it to a breathing organization. I had the help of Joe Ercole in this regard. Joe brought order to the meetings by using Parlimentarian proceedure.

At no time through this period did the anyone in the current renegade network do anything or attend any meetings.

Finally, LO refused to be restrained by Rodgers Rules of Order. She walked out in a storm in August, clearing the way for the growth of the organizaition and the first DMCA action.

The event which drove the membership forward was the arrest of Dmitry Skylov. We worked with LXNY on the 4 month long protest through that summer. My kids, Jay and Seth Johnson were the only ones to walk the line during that period.

In August we finally were able to focus on the "Save the Libraries" campain. The first meeting on that Sunday on September 9th was with Jeanne Thewell, Vaugn Scott, Seth Johnson, Me, and joann Crips. The photo of that first real NY Fair Use action on the Events [] page of NYLXS. I had to break up a fight with Mr Wynkoop and Mr Scott which was started by Mr Wynkoop.

2 days later, the WTC was attacked. I decided to continue meeting and we moved from the Killarny Rose, in the shadow of the WTC to Juniors Cheese Cake coffee house in Brooklyn. We continued the actions despite plead from LO of GNUBIES telling me it was in appropriate.

We had a smashing success, mostly with just Ruben, Seth and JoAnn making the Sunday Petitioning sessions.

on October 28th I went to a town Hall Meeting and Met Schumer and Weiner for the first time for a WTC aftermath meeting. I spoke to each about the libraries. Nobody other than me showed up.

Weiner took one of our buttons.

On November 7th we planned to Meet with Congressman Weiner who is on the IP Sub-committee in Congress.

In October I started the second phase of the NY Fair Use plan and began NYLXS and the NYLXS Free Software Institute to fund the political activities. It worked as I planned. Each complimented the other but NYLXS was set up as a Democratic Organization and NY Fair Use was run strictly by me.

November 9th was the last date of Canvassing for the Save the Library Campaign.

on December 5th of 2001 we met at Weiners Office in Brooklyn. Jay Sulzburger, Kevin Mark, Vaugn Scott and Joeann Cripps made the visit with the Local Cheif of staff.

In January we got an invite to Washingto DC. My left me in January do to my increasing commitmment tothe movement and fear of another attack on NYC. We left on February 19th to DC and NYLXS paid the entire bill for going. Rich Weinberg, Mike Richardson, Paul Rodriguez, Mr Mars, and Joe Grastara went their. The photos of the trip were published in the Linux Journal.

We got lost in DC and then finally met with Lamar Robertson in his home. We polished off 2 bottles of Scotch with him and his family. Joe and I almost got into a fist fight over Middle East Politic on the ride back. We do this traditionally. :)

Paul Rodriguez and I met at Le Marais to discuss another trip to DC about the CBDTPA/SSSCA. Noone showed up but us.

In June NYLXS launched it's radio show.

In July I went to Boradeux France to present a paper on Free Software, Fair use and creating a bigger tent of Free Software education, and education in General. Seth Johnson determined the Department of Commerce was giving panel on DRM with jkack Valenti. I was looking for this oppurtunity, so despite being in Europe and arriving back in NY the day before the Panel, I authorized a trip to Wasington agian. Again it was paid for out of NYLXS funds. Richard Stallman met us in Washington. Jay Sulzburger, Seth Johnson, Vinnie, Mike Richardson, Mars, and finally we dragged Brett Wynkoop to come. Wynkoop refused to drive with us and took his own car.

We had a hugely succesful trip to the DOC. We got a lot of press, My account of the trip on July 17th is on NY Fair Use [] and was published in the Linux Journal. I wrote in in a single sitting.

The trip was successful because we stuck to our Slogans and were disiplined. I invented the slogan 'DRM is Theft" and 'We are the stake holders'.

After the trip, disiplin broke down. Everyone anted the credit and jelosy broke out. I got tired and wanted to focus on the NYLXS business end and asked Bret Wynkoop, who FALSLY claimed to be a co-founder to take care of the day to day operations of NY Fair Use. The DOC wanted to meet with us. It was no public, no press. I was reluctant to go, but since it was a small audience of only about 4 people, I decided to go. Jay, against my wishes, invited the whole damn world to the meeting, decreasing our effectiveness to show concreate messages and strength. I told Wynkoop not to commit NY Fair Use to it under those circumstances. He did what he wanted anyway and cybersqwatted on the domain and the domain.

We rebuilt the membership and returned to DC again for the Berman P2P hearings. NY Fair Use met with Congressman Weiner for 3 hours during and after the hearings in September. Gigi Sohn gave a terrible presentation representing fair use. It was terrible, except for our private one on one with the Congressman.

NY fair Use then started it's P2P action in October which was followed up untilk the LWE last month.

SO - That IS the history of NY Fair Use, and NYLXS. There is no disputing it, unless you've lost touch with reality.

Ruben Safir
Founder and President of NY Fair Use
Elected President and Founder of NYLXS

Who We Are

New Yorkers for Fair Use is a group of New Yorkers who have come together in the media capital of the world, in order to protect a balanced Copyright in the digital age from people who would destroy our ability to legally obtain or create digital copies of media and use it. We see a new digital age where the easy copying of music, video and print threatens the foundation of Copyright. We must take action now!! This organization is formed to bring to the front legislation which protects Copyright law and to encourage politicians to produce balanced Copyright legislation. If we don't do something now, Copyright will become irrelavent in the digital age. In order to protect Copyrighted works we must assure Fair Use. Otherwise Copyright will be ignored and piracy will destroy the foundations of the media industry!

What is Copyright?

Copyright is like love - everyone thinks they know what it is, but few actually understand what it really means.

Historically, Copyright did not exist in western civilization. At the time of Shakespeare, there was no Copyright. At that time playwrights, poets, and artists would vigorously hide their works until playtime for fear of piracy. All poets and playwrights borrowed from each other. Shakespeare' Macbeth is a largely a copied work of previous versions. It is altered by Shakespeare. He added original verse and molded the play that has come down to us. Original elements are intertwined into previous versions from other works. This was not only commonly done by playwrights, but accepted practice.

Prior to the Guttenburg Bible and the mass usage of the printing press, the reproduction of cultural artifacts such as literature and books of learning, was largely controlled by religious institutions like the Catholic Church. The decreasing cost of education and the obtaining of information challenged the political control of the Church, and caused a social revolution. The Protestant revolution was the most visible, but not the only result of the decreasing cost of information. With increasing literacy and access to information, the middle class began to swell from the ranks of peasantry. They brought with them practical demands for works of art and learning, and the need to produce original works of arts and sciences for business and spiritual reasons. People started to demand control over the original creations they produced.

Copyright in Europe and Colonial America

The first Copyright laws developed in Europe in response to the increasing needs of this middle class. By the 1600s in England, it was apparent that it was a benefit to the British nationstate to have some control over the distribution of certain works. Absolute control of original materials was given to Copyright holders. Copyright was established in the law, along with trade secret and patent laws, all designed to assure English dominance in the industrial revolution which was slowly taking hold. Copyrights were issued by the government on a case to case basis. Copyright law and patents became an arm of British colonial policy. Works on industrial processing and other areas were prevented from being transported out of the native isles of English Crown. This helped assure the colonial relationship of England to her colonies, and helped assure British sea power as well.

After the American Revolution, our Founding Fathers looked closely at the issue of Copyright and patents. They determined that an unlimited Copyright was inherently contrary to their aims to create a democratic society. They recognized the need for free association and free speech, which Copyright inherently limits. They recognized the intrusion that Copyright presented on individuals property rights. And most importantly, they realized that unlimited Copyright would erode the principles of a shared cultural heritage which we enjoy as a free people in a common civilization. Unlimited Copyright would surely undermine a free society.

American Copyright

American Copyright is based on the constitutional precept of a limited Copyright license designed to promote the public well being. All Copyright law is an extension of Congressional power to limit property rights and freedom of speech of the public through a limited Copyright license. This power is granted from the following paragraph in the Constitution, without which Copyright would be unconstitutional:

[Congress can pass Laws] To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

Key to Copyright was the concept that Copyright is limited. This was a break in American law from European and English common law. Congress has the power to grant Copyrights, or to not grant Copyrights. Congress can revoke all Copyright protections tomorrow, and Copyright owners are without resource. This is different than Freedom of Speech, which is guaranteed in the 1st Amendment. Congress can never suspend Freedom of Speech or Freedom of the Press with the passage of a bill. The institution of Copyright as defined by the Constitution meant that by constitutional law, and as uphelded repeatedly in the Supreme Court, Copyright does not supercede the constitutional guarantees of the citizenry. Their property and freedom of speech are protected under the law. The balance between the exclusive rights of authors and inventors who have obtained Copyright, and the public's inalienable rights is called Fair Use.

Fair use is the constitutional rights of citizens in respect to their legally obtained property, which happens to be of copies of works granted Copyright. Copyright is a privilege that is superceded by Fair Use constitutional guarantees. Copyright can never supercede Fair Use. Without Fair Use, Copyright makes a criminal of citizens using Copyrighted works in support of a free society and a free government.

This is further codified into statutary law under the Copyright Act:
Sec. 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -

  • (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Recent Copyright Issues

Recent trends in the law in response to the internet and the advent of digital medium have assaulted Copyright. Among the recent laws passed which threaten Copyright is the Digital Millennium Act which Congress passed in 1998 in response to pressure from the broadcast and mass media industry in the US. Another law recently passed which attempts to destroy Copyright is the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act.

Since Copyright can not be legal without Fair Use, both of these laws, among others making rounds on the Federal and State level, are undermining the legal and moral foundation of Copyright. New Yorkers for Fair Use is an organization which is determined to protect the validity of Copyright law by protecting Fair Use and dispelling misinformation on Copyright.

We would like you to know, first and foremost what is a legal use of Copyrighted material and what is not.

First of all: Can I own an idea, song, work of art, writing or other creative work of abstract human intellect?

No - One can not own an idea, even if you created it. You can only own a limited license called a Copyright or patent to exploit your idea for comercial purposes, or not to exploit it if you choose to. Intellectual Property is a misuse of language often used to confuse people about their rights and responsibilities. It is similar to "The Democratic Republic of China" By supporting responsible Copyright legislation, you can best protect your rights under Copyright.

  1. Copying a Copyrighted work.
  2. Making an archive of Copyrighted works.
  3. Editing a Copyrighted work.
  4. Distributing a quote from a Copyrighted work within an original work for the purposes of discussing that work.
  5. Giving a copy of a Copyrighted work to a friend without a charge or other monetary consideration.
  6. Using the Copyrighted work without permission of the Copyright holder in a way the Copyright holder did not initially approve of in its sale of the work to you.
  7. Destroying your copy of the Copyrighted work.
  8. Travelling with the Copyrighted work into a different jurisdiction.
  9. Selling your copy of the Copyrighted work.
  1. Making a copy of a Copyrighted work and selling it.
  2. Charging for the viewing a Copyrighted work without permission of the Copyright holder.
  3. Amassing a database of Copyrighted works and charging for access to that database.
  4. Mixing together Copyrighted works and selling your services for reading or playing that mix.
FBI Warning on Video Tapes.
The FBI Warning about copying a video tape is a lie. Owners of Copyrighted material are allowed to copy the VHS Tape for their personal use. Copying is not a crime.

Ripping CD's to MP3 files.
This is LEGAL. Copying legally purchased Copyrighted material is a protected act under the Constitution.

Making copies of a Copyrighted article for a class discussion and distributing them to the class.
Legal and explicit under Section 107 quoted above.

Sharing an MP3 music file, or a cassette tape of music without charge.
This is LEGAL unless your doing this as part of a business plan or promotion. You can have a website full of MP3's as long as it is not a business site, you are not selling ad space etc. If you can afford it, have fun.

Copying software in a business.
Illegal - Don't do it.

Copying software you own for personal use.
Legal if no money is passing hands.

Sell copies of software you own and no longer use.
Legal as a second sale.