New Yorkers for Fair Use is a natural spin off of the activities of the NY Linux community. Protests and Demonstrations against laws, government action or corporate action, which threaten free software have brought the community out into the streets. Free Software requires the ability of users to tinker with their computers, and to share programming code.
Free Software is largely derived by that great American tradition of the hot-rod and garage mechanic. Lifting the lid and removing the engine is essential, as is a uniform measurement system, standardized tools, and free association among people.
Fair Use is the legal description of your rights under the constitution to your property and freedom of speech. Both these rights have exceptions in regard to other laws and interests. Your ability to take the engine out of your car, tinker with it to customize it, and put it back into the body is an example of your fair use rights.
The prevention of you from putting a nuclear powered rocket engine without state licensing, or the prevention of you driving a hot-rod at 300 mile per hour, is a limitation of your fair use.
In terms of software, computers, and information, the greatest limiting factor on your fair use is Copyrights and Patents. The government is empowered to restrict your fair use in a limited fashion. But these laws have been abused and now threaten open standards and free software. They also threaten a larger pool of civil rights including educational issues, free association, and political discourse.
As a result, NYfair use was formed to raise these issues with the public and congress. It is lead by open source community leaders and is focused currently on the Digital Millenium Act of 1998 and its threat to the public library system. To learn more, see http://fairuse.nylxs.com