Following their excellent publication, Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use, American University’s Center for Social Media has released a new document aimed at amateur producers of online video: Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video. Since the internet is basically one giant, largely unrestricted open forum, it’s basically like a global public access channel where anyone can upload their content at will. Many of the same legal challenges and questions regarding copyrighted works come up in both venues. At VCAM we’ve been recommending AU’s documentary best practices publication to access users who wanted to learn more about copyright issues and fair use. This document seems even more appropriate. Copyfighter Cory Doctorow explains…
Fair use is a legally challenging area: it consists of four factors that judges can weigh when evaluating a claim of copyright infringement (judges can even disregard them or tweak them, based on common sense, as the Supreme Court did when they legalized VCRs in 1984). It’s very hard to know beforehand whether a use of a copyrighted work will be found fair or not — it requires careful analysis of previous caselaw and the direction in which the federal circuits are moving.
In constructing these principles, the Center for Social Media has done an enormous public service: they’ve created a plain-language document that is aimed at helping people who aren’t legal experts to navigate the muddy waters of fair use, to make use of the rights they have under the law and make better videos without getting into legal trouble.
Click here to download the document.