AU’s Center for Social Media releases fair use guidelines for journalists

The Center for Social Media at American University’s School of Communication has released a Set of Principles for Fair Use in Journalism, which provides guidelines for journalists using copyrighted material in their reporting, analysis and criticism. “This guide identifies seven situations that represent the current consensus within the community of working journalists about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials,” it says. “It identifies some common situations encountered by journalists, principles for the application of fair use in those situations, and the limitations that journalists recommend to define the zone of greatest comfort for employment of this right — all consistent with the development of the fair use doctrine in the courts.”

The set of guidelines notes that the growth of digital journalism, social media and aggregation among journalism organizations has heightened awareness and uncertainty about the use of copyrighted material in journalism. U.S. copyright laws stop short of a strict definition of fair use, allowing flexibility in legal interpretation of the doctrine. Pat Aufderheide, director of the CSM, is presenting the principles today at a TEDx event sponsored by the Poynter Institute in St.

Doc-makers get specific about copyright fair use

Friday afternoon, things changed for producers who need to use somebody else’s footage and music in their documentaries. Clearing rights may still cost a lot and take too much time, as in the past, but Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi believe producers now have a solid rationale for not paying excessive and confounding fees for copyrighted materials in certain cases. On Nov. 18 [2005], the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, the Independent Documentary Association, public TV’s Independent Television Service and the series P.O.V., and other media groups endorsed a Statement of Best Practices defining four kinds of situations when a producer, under the “fair use” provisions of copyright law, need not pay for a film clip, a shot of a painting or a snatch of music. Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media at American University in Washington, D.C., and Jaszi, an intellectual property expert at the university’s law school, convened groups of experienced filmmakers around the country to look closely at the producers’ (and their lawyers’) working definition of fair use.