New Guide Helps You Figure Out Fair Use


The concept of “fair use” is often murky and misunderstood, especially in the go-go world of online video. To help battle this legal thicket, American University’s Center for Social Media gathered a group of cultural scholars, legal scholars and practicing lawyers to develop a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. The document describes itself as:

“… a code of best practices that helps creators, online providers, copyright holders, and others interested in the making of online video interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances.”

There are six fair use concepts described and discussed in the document:

  • Commenting on or critiquing of copyrighted material
  • Using copyrighted material for illustration or example
  • Capturing copyrighted material incidentally or accidentally
  • Reproducing, reposting or quoting in order to memorialize, preserve or rescue an experience, event or cultural phenomena
  • Quoting in order to recombine elements to make a new work that depends, for its meaning, on (often unlikely) relationships between the elements
  • Copying, reposting and recirculating a work or a part of a work for purposes of launching a discussion

It even goes on to list some of the common myths about fair use like “If I’m not making money off it, it’s fair use.”

These best practices aren’t the final word in fair use, but they should provide a good primer on basic fair use concepts for the online video noob and a little refresher for the seasoned pro.

Hat tip to Broadcasting and Cable.



This is enormously useful — you don’t know what kind of battles we’ve had with our old-media masters over fair use. Here’s my favorite passage:

Common Fair Use Myths:


Thank you, Center for Social Media!

Liz Gannes

This should be really useful — every time we’ve had a question about this stuff we’ve had to ask a lawyer. It just wasn’t clearly spelled out before.

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