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AU's Center for Social Media Releases Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy

Yes, You Can Use Copyrighted Material in the Classroom:

New Code Outlines Five Principles of Fair Use for Teachers, Students

Contact: Maggie Barrett, American University Media Relations, barrett@american.edu or 202-885-5951

7, Center for Social Media, bogar@american.edu or 202-885-3642

WASHINGTON, DC (November 05, 2008)- A national magazine tells a professor she needs hundreds of permissions to use its cover photos in her class, when in fact she could claim fair use, which does not require payment or permission. Many teachers want to use YouTube as a teaching tool but aren't sure if it's legal; others warn their students not to post their video assignments to YouTube. Under fair use, both actions are legal.

A variety of content and media is now available online, but fear and misinformation have kept teachers and students from using this valuable material, including portions of films, TV coverage, photos, songs, articles, and audio, in the classroom.

Now, thanks to a coordinated effort by the media literacy community, supported by experts at American University and Temple University, teachers and students have a step-by-step guide that simplifies the legalities of using copyrighted materials in an academic setting: The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education.

Set for release on Tuesday, November 11 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the Code was developed by the National Association for Media Literacy Education; the Action Coalition for Media Education; the National Council of Teachers of English; the Visual Communication Studies Division of the International Communication Association; and the Media Education Foundation; and it was facilitated by Patricia Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media; Peter Jaszi, director of the Program on Information, Justice and Intellectual Property Rights at American University; and Renee Hobbs, director of the Media Education Lab at Temple University. For further information regarding the event, please contact Katie Donelly: katie.donnelly@temple.edu.

Educators use copyrighted materials from mass media and popular culture in building students' critical thinking and communication skills. For example, a teacher may have a class analyze a website or a television ad to identify purpose, point of view, and source credibility. With the rise of digital media tools for learning and sharing, it is more important than ever for educators to understand copyright and fair use.

Fair use, a long-standing doctrine that was specifically written into Sec. 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allows the use of copyrighted material without permission or payment when the benefit to society outweighs the cost to the copyright owner.

"The fair-use doctrine was designed to help teachers and learners, among others," said Peter Jaszi, director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University's Washington College of Law. "It's one of the best copyright tools teachers have."

"Finally, copyright confusion among educators will be a thing of the past," said Hobbs, director of Temple University's Media Education Lab and professor of broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media at the university's School of Communications and Theater. "In an increasingly copyrighted world, the code of best practices clarifies copyright and fair use for educators and students."

The code, which outlines basic principles for the application of fair use to media literacy education; articulates related limitations; and examines common myths about copyright and education, is a follow-up to a 2007 report, The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy, available at the Center for Social Media's Website. The report found that lack of copyright understanding impairs the teaching of critical thinking and communication skills. Too many teachers, it found, react by feigning ignorance, quietly defying the rules or vigilantly complying.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education outlines five principles, each with limitations:

Educators can, under some circumstances:

    1. Make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works, and use them and keep them for educational use.
    2. Create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded.
    3. Share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded.

Learners can, under some circumstances:

    4. Use copyrighted works in creating new material
    5. Distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard.

As part of the project, a video has been produced to help students understand how they can use copyrighted materials.
Although the full video will not be available for viewing until November 11, preview/teaser clips are online and ready for viewing.

Other multimedia curriculum materials for educators are available at: centerforsocialmedia.org/medialiteracy and can also be found at mediaeducationlab.com

"The best practices approach has worked superbly for other creative communities, such as documentary filmmakers," said Aufderheide, director of American University's Center for Social Media, part of the university's School of Communication. "The code will empower educators to work as creatively as they want to, with a much better understanding of their rights under the law."

The code has been endorsed by numerous education and communication-centered organizations, including:

    * National Association for Media Literacy Education
    * Action Coalition for Media Education
    * National Council of Teachers of English
    * Visual Communication Studies Division of the International Communication Association
    * Media Education Foundation

This project was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation. Next steps include further research and the creation of a code of best practices for green filmmaking.

For an embargoed (until November 11) copy of the report, please contact 7 (bogar at american.edu.)