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Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

Cameron Parkins, July 9th, 2008

Building off their previous effort “Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video”, the Center for Social Media at American University recently released the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, a document intended to inform those making online video of their basic fair use rights:

This document is a code of best practices that helps creators, online providers, copyright holders, and others interested in the making of online video interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances.

This is a guide to current acceptable practices, drawing on the actual activities of creators, as discussed among other places in the study Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video and backed by the judgment of a national panel of experts. It also draws, by way of analogy, upon the professional judgment and experience of documentary filmmakers, whose own code of best practices has been recognized throughout the film and television businesses.

As pointed out by the CSM, this is not a guide for “using material people give permission to use”, such as CC-licensed works which can be used in any way according to the specific license. Rather, it is a means to better understand the scope of fair use, an incredibly important legal principle for any content creator to understand. You can read more about the Code of Best Practices at Ars Techinca.

One Response to “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video”

  1. For example, fair use will not apply when a copyrighted song is used in its entirety as a sound track for a newly created video simply because the music evokes a desired mood rather than to change its meaning

    That doesn’t make any sense; it’s covered in item two, illustration or example. Emotions need a way to be illustrated or exemplified as well. Using a copyrighted song for its emotional purpose is no different from quoting a historian for their factual purpose.

    Perhaps that bit is included as a concession to the record companies, but that doesn’t mean it makes any more sense to the average video uploader.

    It’s a real shame because everything else in this document is wonderful.