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Fair Use Related Materials

Fair Use Teaching Tools for Documentary

Fair Use Teaching Tools
The Center for Social Media has created a set of teaching tools for professors who are interested in teaching their students about fair use. The tools include powerpoints with lecture notes, guidelines for in-class discussions and exercises, assignments and grading rubrics. We hope you'll find them useful! 

Fair Use Frequently Asked Questions
Since the release of The Statement of Best Practices we have received many inquires about fair use. Here are some of our more commonly asked items. 

Fair Use Scenarios
Here are four scenarios, or hypothetical situations, that a documentary filmmaker might find him or herself facing. The four scenarios are each linked to one of the Statement's categories. These can be used for classroom discussion, and to inspire you to write other scenarios. The goal of these scenarios is to allow discussion about what the fair and responsible thing to do would be, not to find out "the right answer." These scenarios thus allow students to consider what they think makes sense, in light of the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practice to see what professional filmmakers established as principles and limitations. 

Refrigerator Mothers
In Refrigerator Mothers, about an era when mothers were blamed for their children's autism, J.J. Hanley and David Simpson quoted popular films of the era. In this section, you can see what clips they purchased, which clips they employed fair use for, and their reasonings for each decision.

Fair Use in Documentary Film Discussion Clips
For classroom use - For each video, ask your students to consider the following questions: Why is this video fair use? What specific categories of fair use does the video employ? What arguments can you make for why this video is fair use? For explanations of each video, click here.

Examples of Successful Fair Use in Documentary Film
Filmmakers have been successfully employing fair use, even before the Statement of Best Practices clarified their common understandings. Here are some examples of uncontested choices for fair use. They are organized here according to the principles that filmmakers articulated in the Statement, in the categories used in the Statement. These categories are only four of the most common situations for filmmakers; some uses could be hybrid, and others might fall outside these four categories. We welcome more examples at socialmedia@american.edu

Media Literacy Education Teaching Tools

Teaching about Copyright and Fair Use for Media Literacy Education
The Media Education Lab at Temple University has created a whole set of Curriculum Materials for teaching and understanding copyright and fair use. The materials include lesson plans, songs, case studies, and videos. If you're interested in learning more about Fair Use in Media Literacy Education, make sure to check out these excellent materials!Read more...

Statement of the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study
The Visual Resources Association  has released its own code of best practices  in fair use. It will be enormously valuable to art teachers, librarians, curators, publishers and more. The Statement  well describes the need for professionals working with image resources to know their free speech rights in regard to fair use.Read more...

Fair Use Language for Course Syllabi
In your syllabus, you often have some information on copyright. Here is some language to include in that section, specifically on fair use. This language has been reviewed by lawyers, including law professor Peter Jaszi of American University’s Washington College of Law and Michael Donaldson of Donaldson and Hart law firm, and it has been approved by the University Film and Video Association for use by its members.

Reclaiming Fair Use: How To Put Balance Back In Copyright
Out Now: Reclaiming Fair Use   -- a book that empowers creators of all kinds. Profs. Patricia Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media, and Peter Jaszi , Professor of Law in the Washington College of Law at American University, urge a robust embrace  of a principle long-embedded in copyright law, but too often poorly understood—fair use. Read more...

Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright

Reclaiming Fair Use: How To Put Balance Back In Copyright
Out Now: Reclaiming Fair Use   -- a book that empowers creators of all kinds. Profs. Patricia Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media, and Peter Jaszi , Professor of Law in the Washington College of Law at American University, urge a robust embrace  of a principle long-embedded in copyright law, but too often poorly understood—fair use. Read more...

Journalism & Fair Use

Journalism & Fair Use
The Center is proud to present our lastest report
Copyright, Free Speech, and the Public's Right to Know: How Journalists Think about Fair Use. Conducted jointly with the Information Justice and Intellectual Property program in American University's Washington College of Law, the project takes a deep look into the way journalists deal with copyright issues, which can affect not only their own careers, but journalism as a whole.Read more...

Communications Research & Fair Use

Clipping Our Own Wings Copyright and Creativity in Communication Research
Communication scholars need access to copyrighted material, need to make unlicensed uses of them in order to do their research, and often—especially within the United States—have the legal right to do so. But all too often they find themselves thwarted.

Documentary Film & Fair Use 

 How Documentary Filmmakers Overcame their Fear of Quoting and Learned to Employ Fair Use

A Tale of Scholarship in Action, this article appeared in the International Journal of Communication, Vol 1 (2007)Read more...

Read the Transcript of the Ask The Experts Online Q&A on Fair Use!
Ever wonder if you can use a photo you took at the march or a clip mentioning CNN on YouTube? Whether you are a blogger, a photographer or a filmmaker, it is not always clear where your freedom to use content publicly might be legally questioned. When it comes to using copyrighted material, you have more rights than you think.Read more... 

Expanding User Rights For Documentary Filmmakers
Funded By: Rockefeller Foundation and Grantmakers In Film And Electronic Media Read more...

Untold Stories: Creative Consequences of the Rights Clearance Culture
The Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices began with a study demonstrating the problems that documentary filmmakers face in getting and controlling rights for their creative work. Here is the 2004 report, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Read more...

Answers to Common IP Questions for the Independent Documentary Filmmaker
To help relieve some of the attendant burdens and potential expenses that could incur for failure to comply with intellectual property clearance, the filmmaker should thoroughly and scrupulously explore available clearance alternatives.Read more...

Intellectual Property Issues for the Social-Issue Documentary Filmmaker
Cultural arts journalist Shari Kizirian provides an overview of intellectual rights issues--copyright, trademark, digital rights management--as they affect the creative work of filmmakers.

Online Video & Fair Use

Unauthorized: The Copyright Conundrum in Participatory Video
Suppose you're running an online video platform, and people start uploading video that uses other people's work. How should unauthorized use of other people's work be treated in this new environment?Read more...

The Good, The Bad and the Confusing: User-Generated Video Creators on Copyright
How do creators of content on the plethora of sites that accept online video understand their rights and responsibilities regarding intellectual property? Addressing this question is challenging, since the pool of creators is not only diffuse but constantly changing. In this study, undergraduate and graduate college students who upload online video were asked to describe their practices and attitudes on using copyrighted material to make new work and on the value to them of their own copyright. Includes links to press coverage of report.Read more...

Copyright Law & Fair Use

The Law of Fair Use and the Illusion of Fair-Use Guidelines

Copyright, Fair Use and Motion Pictures
Motion Pictures and Copyright Discipline

Copyright Backgrounder
This concise background document describes what copyright is and what can be copyrighted, as well as what material is in the public domain and what is fair useable. Michael Donaldson is an attorney in Los Angeles, many of whose clients are leading documentary filmmakers. His book, Clearance and Copyright (Silman-James Press, October 2003), from which much of this information has been drawn, is widely regarded as a basic text for documentary filmmakers. Donaldson also contributed his expertise to the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use.Read more...

How to Find Out What is in the Public Domain
Professor Peter Hirtle explains when copyrighted material falls into the public domain.Read more...

Fair Use: An Essential Feature of Copyright
Hearing testimony by Peter Jaszi explains the legal significance of the doctrine of fair use, for creators, consumers and commerce.Read more...

"Yes, You Can!"--Where You Don't Even Need 'Fair Use'
This helpful guide by Peter Jaszi offers insight into what falls into the category of free use.Read more...

Repurposing and Rights: A Non-Profit Summit
The Center hosted on May 22 at American University a convening, "Repurposing and Rights: A Non-Profit Summit," composed of public broadcasters, librarians, archivists, scholars, lawyers and new media experts.