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Visual Arts Fair Use Code Gains Endorsement

Another major organization has endorsed the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts: The Visual Resources Association (VRA), whose members manage image collections in higher education, museums and archives. 

The prestigious professional association was an early supporter of fair use in the visual arts, with guidelines on using images in teaching and research. Now, it will collaborate with the College Art Association to promote the Code, which CMSI helped to create. VRA’s board called the Code 

"an important development in addressing the widespread uncertainty about fair use among the visual arts community, where over-reliance on permissions can negatively affect scholarship, teaching, and creative production, sometimes profoundly."

The board noted that the Code enables members to communicate with

"publishers, lawyers, and other entities whose decisions affect scholarly, educational, and creative output in the visual arts. Just as importantly, the Code offers guidance to rights holders, institutions, and courts regarding best practices within the visual arts community's standards as they make decisions and policies relating to the application of fair use." 

VRA’s Intellectual Property Rights Committee also noted a longstanding problem with publications not accepting fair use claims.  It expressed hope that 

"current community practices in scholarly publishing will continue to evolve toward more consistent reliance on fair use, and statements from professional communities, such as the Code, support this evolution of standards and practices."

The College Art Association has already changed its publications’ policies to be pro-fair use. Since they are leading journals in the field, this is already a major step forward. The VRA’s committee recommended that VRA follow suit. 

The Committee also celebrated the Code’s process. A “key strength,” it noted, 

"lies in its codification of the historically scrupulous nature of our community of practitioners…the CAA Code provides a resolute assertion on behalf of our community of practice that courts may refer to when considering fair use parameters."