Monday, July 28, 2008

Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video Released

How to Stay Legal in Remix Culture? When is it fair and legal to use other people's copyrighted work to make your own? What's the line between infringement and fair use?

American University’s Center for Social Media announces the release of a new code of best practices in fair use for creators and users of the professional and amateur online videos (

The code, grounded in the practices of online video makers and in the law, was collaboratively created by a team of scholars and lawyers from leading universities. It was coordinated by American University Professors Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi.

The code identifies, among other things, six kinds of unlicensed uses of copyrighted material that may be considered fair, under certain limitations. They are:

  • Commenting or critiquing of copyrighted material.
  • Use for illustration or example.
  • Incidental or accidental capture of copyrighted material.
  • Memorializing or rescuing of an experience or event.
  • Use to launch a discussion.
  • Recombining to make a new work, such as a mashup or a remix, whose elements depend on relationships between existing works.

Before the code’s release, there was no clear statement about what constitutes fair use in online video.

Code of Best practices Committee Members:

Peter Jaszi, professor of law, faculty director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic, Washington College of Law, American University
Patricia Aufderheide, professor, director of the Center for Social Media, School of Communication, American University

Michael C. Donaldson, Esq., Los Angeles
Anthony Falzone, lecturer, executive director, Fair Use Project, Stanford Law School
Lewis Hyde, Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing, Kenyon College; fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University
Mizuko Ito, research scientist, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California
Henry Jenkins, professor, program head, comparative media studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Michael Madison, associate dean for research, associate professor of law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Pamela Samuelson, Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information, University of California, Berkeley
Rebecca Tushnet, professor, Georgetown University Law Center, Georgetown University
Jennifer Urban
, clinical associate professor of law; director of Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic, University of Southern California


CSM quote:

  • Patricia Aufderheide, Professor, Director of the Center for Social Media, School of Communication, American University

“This code of best practices will protect an emerging creative zone—online video—from de-facto censorship,” said Aufderheide. “Creators, online video providers and copyright holders will be able to know when copying is stealing and when it’s legal.”

  • Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law, Faculty Director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic, Washington College of Law, American University

“The fair use doctrine is every bit as relevant in the digital domain as it has been for almost two centuries in the print environment,” said Jaszi. “Here we see again the strong connection between the fair use principle in copyright and the guarantee of freedom of speech in the Constitution.”

Third party quote:

  • Dean Jansen, Outreach Director, Participatory Culture Foundation

“For anyone who has wondered, ‘Will I be sued for creating and posting this video online?,’ the code of best practices in fair use is an invaluable guide,” said Dean Jansen, outreach director for the Participatory Culture Foundation, the organization behind Miro.

Third party quote:

"Political remixers badly need the Code of Best Practices, because they want their work to circulate widely as a form of criticism with some impact in the world. They also don’t want to be hostage to DMCA takedowns (which is when a copyright holder asks a provider like YouTube to take down a video, because it infringes their copyright), or at least they want to have good arguments for a counter-takedown," said New York remix artist Jonathan McIntosh.

“As well, many non-profits and other organizations really want to make political remixes, but they’ve been afraid to try, because they’re worried about incurring legal expenses,” he said. “This Code will make it much easier to know when you’re going to be within the law.”

Please contact CSM to arrange an interview and/or for additional quotes.

CSM Boilerplate:

The Center for Social Media showcases and analyzes strategies to use media as creative tools for public knowledge and action. It focuses on social documentaries for civil society and democracy, and on the public media environment that supports them. The Center is part of the School of Communication at American University.


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