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Fair Use in the Military

On January 22, communications experts from the Department of Defense got together in northern Virginia, to share their challenges with incorporating social media. It was an honor to make a presentation on fair use. This was a knowledgeable, engaged, and (as is typical of the military) nicely diverse crowd. I learned a lot too. It's not as easy as you might think to bring Twitter and Facebook to the Army, as the creators of my.army.mil and of the site for JIEDDO (Joint IED Defeat Organization) explained. Government sites can't have advertising on them, and need customized applications; generals may not really want to share information; someone has to decide what level of security a piece of tweeted information actually is; many colleagues and superiors are not even digital immigrants yet. Along with other obstacles, the frustrated government social media experts face fair use challenges. When they run video contests to publicize their issues, what rules should they use for use of third-party content? What pictures can they use from Flickr on their tweets? Can they challenge a takedown on YouTube? What can people legally do with their material, without permission or payment? Attendees were delighted to get copies of CSM codes of best practices, to discuss how to ground their counter-takedown challenges, and to find out when federally-produced materials are public domain content.