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Q&A on Fair Use

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Dear ICA,

I wrote a scholarly article analyzing and comparing coverage of recent police shootings, and I want to use images from different broadcast and cable news segments. I also have a blog, and on that I'd like to summarize (and link to) the research, and use actual clips. I've been recording and have the material. But do I need to get permission from the news organizations?



Dear Puzzled,

Thanks for writing! Fair use, the right to use unlicensed copyrighted material under some circumstances, is discussed in the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication, an ICA publication. In the first category, "Analysis, Criticism, and Commentary of Copyrighted Material," it is noted that scholarly work analyzing media is made stronger when the material discussed can be represented. In the second, "Quoting Copyrighted Material for Illustration," it is clear that illustrating an argument with copyrighted material is clearly transformative. Look carefully at the limitations to ensure that you're in the comfortable fair use zone your peers have defined.

The same criteria apply to a scholarly journal and to a blog. You may, however, have to explain to an editor of a journal how fair use works; some editors are used to permissions as a default. Giving them the Code will help them learn and also to see that it's not just you, but the best judgment of the field that fair use is eligible here.

Patricia Aufderheide for ICA
Got a question? paufder@american.edu

Tags:  December 2016 

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