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Fair use is hard at work, in places where you might not even realize or might take for granted.  Since this week is Fair Use Week, let’s celebrate the doctrine in Copyright Law that allows for the use of existing cultural and scientific material without permission, under certain circumstances, in order to promote innovation, creativity, and scholarship, fair use!  And, let’s take a moment to recognize all that fair use provides us…

News reporting – Fair use allows reporters to show previously created content to provide appropriate context around current events, giving the audience a better understanding of events that are unfolding.

Database Searching – Information can be indexed and searched, expediting discovery since fair use allows for the copying and ingestion of copyrighted works into searchable databases.

Text and Data Mining – The creation of searchable databases is a transformative fair use in which the copyrighted work is being used for a different purpose than its original intent. Internet search engines, plagiarism detection software, and other databases rely on this.

Art –  Fair use facilitates the use of culturally and historically significant clips and artifacts in various forms of entertainment. Appropriation art, such as Andy Warhol’s paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, relies extensively on preexisting works.

Fan fiction – Fair use permits the use of existing characters, songs, and audiovisual clips in the creation of new, user-generated content.

Parodies –  Since it is comedic commentary about a work, that, by definition, requires an imitation of the work to make its point, fair use allows it.

Documentary films – There are many ways in which documentary films may use copyrighted material.  Some examples include, for social or political critique, to illustrate points of argument, incidentally while filming something else, or in historical sequences.

And more!!!

Adapted from the Fair Use Promotes the Creation of New Knowledge Infographic

Post contributed by Judy Rabinowitz

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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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Thank you, Fair Use, for providing the freedom

to use other people’s work, of course, within reason.

As a fundamental balance in the Copyright Act,

uses like criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research are backed.

No permission is needed from the copyright holder.

Transformative use means there’s little burden to shoulder!

Post contributed by Judy Rabinowitz

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