Ethics and Legality of The Time Magazine Corpus

In today’s world, it seems like just about anything can get you tossed in jail or subjected to massive fines. From jaywalking to peer to peer file music sharing, you can committ crimes without even knowing your breaking the law. To come to a greater comprehension of what is ethical and legal in the evolving digital landscape, let us look at a case study, the Time Magazine Corpus.

The Time Magazine Corpus is a database created by BYU Professor Mark Davies that charts the prevalence of words found in Time Magazine and how those words have evolved over time. Since the Time Magazine Corpus essentially acts as an enyclopedia of Time Magazine by taking the content from its articles over the last seventy or so years, questions have been raised over its legality. Thankfully (or maybe not so thankfully), you have an amateur public historian to save and advise you on its use! After looking at text and arguments from American University communications professor, Patricia Aufderheide, and law school professor Peter Jaszi, in their book, “Reclaiming Fair Use: How to put Balance back in Copyright,” I’ve come to the conclusion that the Time Magazine Corpus is good to go as it adheres to the fair use policy.

First, the Time Magazine Corpus in my opinion, borrows a sufficient amount of material to adequately justify the purpose of its use. The content used, according to Professor Mark Davies, is upwards of 275,000 plus in material, and can be found publically online at the Time Magazine Archive.

Another question to ask yourself is if the purpose of the use of copyrighted material changes or stays the same, and in this case, it certainly changes. The corpus endeavors to go far beyond just duplication of Time content, it actually creates additional tools and offers new functions that bolster the original content, and allows anyone to use the website as a resource for studying the evolution of words in the English language.

2 thoughts on “Ethics and Legality of The Time Magazine Corpus

  1. Of course the potential of going to jail is a bit extreme, albeit there can be massive fines for violating copyright if proven in a court of law. You make the right assessment here but there are two issues. One, the issue of transformation is the central issue and should be addressed first. More detail on how it is transformative would strengthen the case. With the second measure, you do not really address how much content the user gets access to, which is key, and why they get access to that amount.

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