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Visual Arts Community to Publish Best Practices in Fair Use

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual ArtsAfter two years of research and deliberations, members of the visual arts community—artists, art scholars, museum professionals, and editors—have created a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, to be released on February 9, just in time for the College Art Association annual conference.

An artist wonders if it’s legal to pull a twitter feed into a work of digital art. An art historian wants to write about the color movement, but can’t spend years working with estates to get permission for illustrations. A museum curator would love to create a digital site to showcase a pathbreaking exhibition…but what about copyright?

All these situations, and much more, occur commonly in the visual arts community. As of Feb. 9, , people will be able to find out what is the best recommended practice in relation to copyright as they create new culture.

A cast of thousands

The process involved thousands of people, who variously answered a survey, were interviewed, or met in deliberative groups over the last two years, in a project coordinated by American University professors Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide

The five general areas addressed by the Code are: Analytic Writing;Teaching about Art; Making Art; Museum Uses; Online Access to Archival and Special Collections.

Stunted development

DeWitt Godfrey, CAA president and professor of art and art history at Colgate University, said, “The research undertaken in this project demonstrated that a significant amount of creative and scholarly work has been stunted by a lack of understanding or clear consensus on fair use.”

In January 2014, CAA published Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report, authored by Aufderheide and Jaszi with graduate fellows Tijana Milosevic and Bryan Bello.  It showed that two-thirds of those in the visual arts community had avoided or abandoned a project, because of copyright concerns.

More and better

If past experience is any guide, the Code will give members of the visual arts community the freedom to make more and better work. This is the tenth such code that Aufderheide and Jaszi have created with communities of practice. In each of them to date, creators have not only made work more efficiently with less cost and delay, but also been able to innovate. (URL on success stories)

Almost here

The Code will be available at the College Art Association's annual conference and on the CMSI website from Feb. 9. As well, Aufderheide and Jaszi will speak to the conference attendees on Feb. 13 at the New York Hilton's Trianon Room.