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Fair Use Awareness Raised among ICA Members

Posted By Dave Park (Lakeforest College), Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The right to use copyrighted material without licensing it is essential to many communication research practices, but many communication scholars are puzzled about how to use it. ICA has help.


When communication scholars quote from other scholars’ work in their own; when they conduct experiments using, say, commercials or clips from movies; when they assemble a private collection of articles while working on a research project; when they or their students select illustrations for their work, they need to know when they can use copyrighted material without licensing. ICA has guidance for US-based scholars, and hope for others as well.


Fair Use.

Fair use is, as ICA’s own Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Communication Scholarship describes it, is “the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant.” It is easy to take fair use provisions for granted when we teach or when we publish our scholarship.

The copyright doctrine of fair use has become a bedrock principle for academic freedom in the 21st century. The Code of Best Practices was created by an ICA Task Force in 2009-2010.


Fair Dealing and Beyond.

In the Commonwealth countries exceptions under the rubric of “fair dealing” typically include exceptions for scholarly publishing. Other countries often have exceptions under the rubric of “right of quotation,” which usually apply to scholarly publishing.

The ICA’s best practices code does not apply to those different copyright regimes, but international scholars should be aware that they too have rights under their copyright law to unlicensed use of copyrighted material.


Task Force’s Mission and Accomplishments.

And yet, ICA members for years forgot that the Code existed.

In pursuit of more widespread awareness and use of ICA’s fair use code, ICA created the Fair Use task force in 2017. The Fair Use task force consisted of: David Park (Chair), with members Patricia Aufderheide (American U), Larry Gross (U of Southern California), JP Gutierrez (ICA),  Jefferson Pooley (Muhlenberg College), and Katherine Sender (U of Michigan).

Our task force was charged to extend ICA’s efforts to publicize our own fair use code and to make links to other scholarly associations for the purpose of seeking endorsement of ICA’s fair use code.


The Fair Use Task Force pursued this agenda vigorously in 2017 and 2018. We have arranged for—and this newsletter has included—the regular Fair Use Q&A column, penned by task force member Patricia Aufderheide. These columns will continue for the foreseeable future. We made ICA’s fair use code easier to find on Simply go to, click on the publications tab, and then select ‘Fair Use Policy.’ It’ll be here.


We developed a session for the 2018 ICA Annual Conference in Prague, dedicated to fair use and fair dealing concerns. It drew international attendance, despite an early hour, with vigorous discussion. As well, preparing for the Annual Conference in 2018, task force members coordinated with all ICA chairs and interest groups so that they could either use our turnkey slideshow (Still useful! For your fellow faculty and students! Enjoy!) concerning fair use or have one of our task force members address their business meetings.


We have advocated on behalf of ICA’s fair use policy in conversations with the publishers of the ICA journals. Taylor & Francis has adopted the language from our own fair use code for their own communication publications. Oxford University Press is in the process of revising its own guidance to be more current with existing law, and we trust this will be more congruent with our Code.


Next Steps.

The Fair Use Task Force has now been disbanded, as we have accomplished our mandate and we believe ad-hoc committees should be ad-hoc. We leave to the ICA Publications Committee the hard work of continuing to recruit publishers’ adoption of ICA’s Fair Use policy. This is a big job, but the Publications Committee is well-positioned to complete it. We leave to the ICA Executive Committee the work of continuing to make links to other scholarly associations in pursuit of a broader scholarly awareness and adoption of this same policy. We hope that our work has generated a wider recognition of what Fair Use can do for ICA members.


Addendum: The Fair Use Task Force members wish to celebrate David Park for his exemplary leadership. PA, LG, JPG, JP, KS.

Tags:  August 2018 

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