Trying to explain “Fair Use”

If I have learned one thing from reading Cory Doctorow’s novels, it is that you do not want to be sued by Disney. That means that you probably want to be familiar with the Fair Use concept from Copyright Law. I’m not a copyright lawyer. The odds indicate that you are not a copyright lawyer. This means that neither of us is truly familiar with the Fair Use concept from Copyright Law.

Fortunately, the American University Center for Social Media has published a Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism:

This document is a statement of principles to help journalists in the United States interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. It is intended for anyone who engages in the set of practices that entails creating media of any kind that refers to real-life events of public interest, in service of public knowledge, whether that person is a full-time professional or an individual who takes it upon himself or herself to report about specific issues or events…Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant.

It is intended for “journalists”, but I’m not really sure what that means anymore, either. Heck, they happily punt on the definition too. If you ever feel the urge to write things related to copyrighted material, you probably want to review this.

*Hat tip to Ellyn Angelotti at Poynter.


Author: Josh Witten

3 thoughts on “Trying to explain “Fair Use””

  1. What we really need is a set of fair-use guidelines written by The Daily Show’s lawyers – they manage to pack a lot in under fair use.

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