In this month's fair use question a poetry teacher asks whether a "mash-up" assignment will invite legal trouble.
Dear Center For Social Media:
I’m a poet and English literature teacher at public high school in Baltimore. I’ve devised a project that asks students to pair pieces of verse from their favorite regional poets and lyricists with sections of advertising from iconic Baltimore businesses to create a snap shot of local culture. My student’s are fascinated by all things “mash-up” and thus enthusiasm for the assignment has been overwhelming. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to worry that I might be inviting a lawsuit. Is what I’m doing legal?
What a great idea for a project. You're wise to think about copyright, at a time when your students often want to take their homework far beyond the classroom, to YouTube and beyond. And you're in luck; you've got a tool to help you and your students make good copyright decisions: the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry , authored by poets for poets (many of whom are also educators). Section two, “New Works ‘Remixed’ from Other Material,” looks at allusion or pastiche” -- techniques (like remixes and mashups) that have always been “an important part of poetic practice.” Section two also discusses “imaginative” and “intellectual transformation” of both literary and non-literary copyrighted material.
Section three of the code deals specifically with the fair use in the classroom – an environment that copyright law gives great flexibility to in utilizing copyrighted material for teaching.