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Fair Use Q&A

Posted By Patricia Aufderheide (American U), Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dear ICA,


I came across an image that I would like to use as part of a critical analysis piece I am writing to submit to an online journal. This article compares media coverage of 21st century pop culture artists with that of pop artists of the 1950s and 1960s. I’d like to include images of the original artwork, as well as some examples of media portrayals of it, but I have heard that artwork is closely guarded by estates and other rights-holding organizations. Can you advise about the status of original art?



Art and Culture


Dear Art and Culture,


ICA’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication gives you some good guidance here. It makes clear that fair use applies to unlicensed reproduction of any copyrighted material for analysis or illustration, and provides clear limitations that can guide you. Since fair use is contextual, your ability to reproduce a work in its entirety without permission depends on your reason for doing so. The Code helps you through the logic of that reasoning. Artwork is like any other copyrighted work, in terms of how to apply fair use reasoning.

However, fair use can only be applied to work you have access to. If you need access to work, or a version of a work, that is only available from one source, then you will have to access it under the terms the holder requires. Some art scholars, for instance, want to work with a very high resolution version of an artwork, and that may only be available from the owner or a service representing copyright holders.



Patricia Aufderheide for ICA


Got a question? paufder@american.edu

Tags:  May 2018 

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