Time flies, and we’re already wrapping up Fair Use Week, the annual event where we rally to educate and celebrate the provisions under the law that allow us to report the news, innovate in science, make art, create parody, and use works for scholarly interpretation.

Over the last few years, more and more questions have popped up regarding Fair Use and social media. Can you Instagram that logo? Can you Tweet that artwork? Can you share that book chapter on Facebook? Our favorite Fair Use Infographic offers some guidance, reminding us that “courts are much more likely to uphold a use as fair use if it is transformative, meaning that it adds something new, with a different character, expression, meaning or message, or function.” So what does that mean in the land of ‘grams, tweets, snaps, and shares?

A 2016 case, Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., ruled that copyright holders must consider Fair Use before before attempting to remove or suppress online content. But what is “transformative” in the social media landscape? It appears grabbing a photo from Flickr and tweeting it to make a statement about refugees (as Donald Trump, Jr. did) doesn’t count. How about posting hyperlinks to copyrighted materials? That’s an evolving issue.

As of right now, the best advice we can offer is to treat anything you do in the online environment as you would in the offline environment. Consider the Four Factors before you post, consider sourcing images from some of the fantastic Open Access and Creative Commons resources out there, and when in doubt, contact a librarian!

We hope you enjoyed Fair Use Week 2018!

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