Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fair use in video - best practices

The American University Center for Social Media has put out a "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video."

I could do without the "Code of" wording -- I think anything online that smacks of a "code" is destined for a rocky time at the least; this isn't a code-fearin' bunch. But, having said that, it's a useful site for going over some of the ins and outs of fair use for video, which is a bit different than for text.

The nut graf:
More and more, video creation and sharing depend on the ability to use and circulate existing copyrighted work. Until now, that fact has been almost irrelevant in business and law, because broad distribution of nonprofessional video was relatively rare. ... As practices spread and financial stakes are raised, the legal status of inserting copyrighted work into new work will become important for everyone.

The site has six fairly plain-spoken but well-explained principles, all of which it says are rooted in "transformativeness."
  1. Commenting on or critiquing copyrighted material
  2. Using copyrighted material for illustration or example
  3. Capturing copyrighted material incidentally or accidentally
  4. Reproducing, reposting or quoting in order to memorialize, preserve, or rescue an experience, an event, or a cultural phenomenon (that one alone ought to clue you in that there are some heavyweight lawyers on the group that put this together)
  5. Copying, reposting and recirculating a work or part of a work for purposes of launching a discussion
  6. Quoting in order to recombine elements to make a new work that depends for its meaning on (often unlikely) relationships between the elements
And there is this good advice:
Inevitably, considerations of good faith come into play in fair use analysis. One way to show good faith is to provide credit or attribution, where possible, to the owners of the material being used.

A full PDF version is also available.

Andy Dickinson has a good follow-up on the state of the law on the UK side of the pond. And there are some differences, especially that "fair dealing" does not apply to photos ther. (Why should I care, you say? Because digital media have this nasty property of not respecting borders.) Definitely follow his link to the BBC editors' post on questions about using pictures from Facebook, etc.

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