!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Fair Use

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fair Use

The Center for Social Media, based in the School of Communications of American University in Washington DC, provides a wealth of information on fair use of copyrighted materials.

An early success in clarifying the concept of fair use was the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use, released in November 2005. The document was developed by the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, the Independent Feature Project, the International Documentary Association, the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, and the Washington chapter of Women in Film and Video, in consultation with the Center for Social Media.

As reported in an FAQ relating to the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement, it
has provoked dramatic change in the industry ... PBS and ITVS [Independent Television Service] have used the Statement to release programs, and so have cable casters including IFC [Independent Film Channel]. All four of the national errors and omissions insurers now issue fair use coverage if a lawyer says that the use is within the terms of the Statement. [link added] (For more on the success of the Statement, see here.)
The Statement "is organized around four classes of situations that [documentary filmmakers] confront regularly in practice":
  • Employing copyrighted material as the object of social, political, or cultural critique

  • Quoting copyrighted works of popular culture to illustrate an argument or point

  • Capturing copyrighted media content in the process of filming something else

  • Using copyrighted material in a historical sequence
Each of these situations is described, and then the relevant fair use principle is explained, along with limitations on application of the principle.

Similar fair use issues arise in the creation and posting of online videos. Accordingly, the Center for Social Media released a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video in June 2008 that builds on the work done in developing the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement. The situations covered in the Online Video Code are:
  • Commenting on or critiquing of copyrighted material

  • Using copyrighted material for illustration or example

  • Capturing copyrighted material incidentally or accidentally

  • Reproducing, reposting, or quoting in order to memorialize, preserve, or rescue an experience, an event, or a cultural phenomenon

  • Copying, reposting, and recirculating a work or part of a work for purposes of launching a discussion

  • Quoting in order to recombine elements to make a new work that depends for its meaning on (often unlikely) relationships between the elements
One last item I'd highlight among the resources provided by the Center for Social Media is the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. The situations covered in this Code are:
  • Employing copyrighted material in media literacy lessons

  • Employing copyrighted material in preparing curriculum materials

  • Sharing media literacy curriculum materials

  • Student use of copyrighted materials in their own academic and creative work

  • Developing audiences for student work
An FAQ relating to the Code for Media Literacy Education is here.


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