Publication Year


ISBN: 9781552213537-14


Seeking the Margins

Fair Use and Copyright, Harold Innis, and Israel

From: Intellectual Property for the 21st Century


This paper seeks to combine elements from the fields of law and communication to address contemporary challenges concerning the use of exceptions within the system of copyright. The debate surrounding copyright exceptions often seems intractable, with a key point of dispute being the vagueness of the language of the law. That vagueness has merit — exceptions which facilitate the pursuit of creativity must necessarily be as indeterminate as creativity itself. Returning to the work of Harold Adams Innis (1894–1952) reminds us of the value of language that invites thoughtful deliberation. Innis’ work has further relevance as a contemporary evaluation of how nation states are adopting and functioning with indeterminate language—this paper sets the stage for a long-term research study concerning Israel’s adoption of fair use into domestic copyright. Modern copyright is increasingly set by a global template, leaving little room for individuality; with recourse to Innis the author suggests that Israel has the potential to adhere to twenty-first century copyright principles without compromising their own particular culture of reading and knowledge development.



Meera Nair

Meera Nair completed her PhD at the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in 2009. Her interest in intellectual property law stems from a BSc in mathematics and ten years’ experience in the area of technology transfer between academia and industry. For the 2012–13 academic year she was an Azrieli International Postdoctoral Fellow at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A list of her publications can be found at her blog, FairDuty (, together with an eclectic mix of commentary on copyright, creativity, and culture.