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Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright Backgrounder

This concise background document describes what copyright is and what can be copyrighted, as well as what material is in the public domain and what is fair useable. Michael Donaldson is an attorney in Los Angeles, many of whose clients are leading documentary filmmakers. His book, Clearance and Copyright (Silman-James Press, October 2003), from which much of this information has been drawn, is widely regarded as a basic text for documentary filmmakers. Donaldson also contributed his expertise to the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use.


Unauthorized: The Copyright Conundrum in Participatory Video

Suppose you're running an online video platform, and people start uploading video that uses other people's work. How should unauthorized use of other people's work be treated in this new environment? The Center for Media & Social Impact and American University's law school brought together executives from online video platforms in both commercial and noncommercial media with lawyers and scholars, to discuss how to manage unauthorized use.


Remix Culture: The Good, the Bad and the Confusing

Worry, worry, worry. That's what happens, it seems, when college students upload video to online platforms. They care about copyright, and would like to own their own work and respect that of others. They just don't understand their own First Amendment rights or know how to comply with copyright law. That's what the Center's new study, "The Good, the Bad and the Confusing," shows. And in this case, confusion directly affects creativity, because people sometimes make creative decisions based on misinformation. Read it and let us know--does this strike a chord?Read more...

Repurposing and Rights: A Non-Profit Summit

On May 22 at American University the Center hosted a convening, "Repurposing and Rights: A Non-Profit Summit," composed of public broadcasters, librarians, archivists, scholars, lawyers and new media experts. The group discussed the problems of repurposing audio-visual material in a digital era. The topics included user interfaces, third-party rights problems, changing contract terms and the challenges and opportunities of digital rights management.


How to Find Out What is in the Public Domain

Professor Peter Hirtle explains when copyrighted material falls into the public domain. This is a great chart to hang onto for future reference.