Hardly a day goes by that I don’t use someone else’s copyrighted material in my own journalism. I think these excerpts qualify as “fair use” — that portion of U.S. copyright law that allows for limited exceptions to copyright monopolies for the creation of new culture — but do I really know? Do you?
I think most of us just say a little prayer every time we use somebody else’s quote or music hit and watch our email for takedown requests. That’s probably not a good way to operate, so it’s a good thing that Patricia Aufderheide is here to help.
Aufderheide is a communications professor at American University (disclosure: Current is an editorially independent service of AU’s School of Communication) where she directs the Center for Media and Social Impact. For the last 10 years, she’s worked with colleagues at AU’s law school on developing principles and best practices for fair use in various creative fields.
Their Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism came out in 2013. It’s based not only on what judges typically consider to be fair use, but what journalists consider to be fair use — the latter being more important than you might realize. Many of these questions have yet to be litigated, and judges are likely to consider common professional practice when they make future rulings.
“[Fair use] is deliberately written in a very abstract way in order to let you, the new creative user, create in the way that is most appropriate to your time and place and profession,” Aufderheide told me on The Pub. “Which is all very good until you actually try to use it, and then you’re like, ‘Um, will I get in trouble?’”
On this week’s episode, I describe some common liberties that public media people take with copyright, and Aufderheide tells us whether they’re legal, or should be legal.
Also on the show, is The Pub too long? Many of you think so. But are you listening with your broadcaster brain or your normal person’s brain? Is there an optimal length for podcasts?
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