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Visual Arts Community Embraces Fair Use Code

At the annual College Art Association conference, the news was about fair use. 

Thousands of attendees received a copy of the just-created Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. At the Committee on Intellectual Property’s annual panel, Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi joined CAA Board President Dewitt Godfrey, a sculptor; Anne Goodyear, a museum curator; Christine Sundt, a journal editor; and CAA’s counsel Jeffrey Cunard to introduce members to the resources.

As members asked questions, panelists were able to showcase the related resources for them, including an FAQ that included answers to all the questions audience members raised.

Within hours, arts organizations were already sharing the news. At the well-regarded visual arts news site Hyperallergic, Ben Sutton summarized the Code and concluded, “hopefully the CAA’s code will give artists the courage to go ahead and use old art to make new work.” Prof. Asa Mitman published a“quick guide” to the Code on the Material Collective site, encouraging users to educate their gatekeepers:

[W]e should start forwarding this handy booklet to all publishers, to press them on this issue. If they want to pay, cool, but their frequent insistence that authors fork out sometimes thousands of dollars to pay for something that the courts have declared unnecessary is in need of some challenge. And tenured folks, this is one of those places where we need to stand up and speak out, in particular, since untenured folks need those publications and may feel they can’t afford to challenge publishers in this fashion.

Billboard magazine, a trade focused on music, found the Code relevant; the wryly-titled “You’re (Probably) Doing It Wrong” connects the Code’s information for visual arts with transformative uses that musicians and other artists may make. And in the just-concluded #FairUseWeek2015, the Code was much-referenced on Twitter.

Related organizations are considering the Code for their members as well. The first group to respond was the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) expressed its support of the Code. Christine Anagnos, AAMD executive director, and Susan Taylor, AAMD president and Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art in Louisiana, wrote: “AAMD believes the code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts is an excellent contribution to the field and a great point of departure for best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials.”