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Fair Use Q&A

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Dear ICA,


I am teaching a weekend seminar on social media. Through my own research, I’ve developed a collection that now allows for some historical comparison. I want my students to use this collection in their class assignments. Is it safe to put this material on our course site? Our library is rather strict about copyright.




Dear Teacher,


In terms of the copyright status of your own collection, you might look at the ICA’s  Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication, and particularly at Section Four, “Storing Copyrighted Material In Collections and Archives,” which describes both why this kind of archiving activity falls under fair use, and also under what limitations.

In terms of your classroom practice, the communication scholars who developed the Code decided not to define fair use in this environment, because film scholars had already done so and their code was entirely applicable for communication. So take a look at  the Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use for Film and Media Educators .

In terms of your librarians, not all librarians are as familiar with fair use, or the best practices of particular fields, as others. You may be able to help yours by sharing the Code.



Patricia Aufderheide for ICA


Got a question? paufder@american.edu

Tags:  April 2019 

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