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Fair Use Q & As

Posted By Tolu Ilupeju, Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dear ICA,

I’m doing a conference presentation, showing different ways that visualizations can interpret, and misinterpret the same set of data. I would like to draw some examples from the real world to show the consequences of visual choices. Is it OK to copy visualizations and insert them into my slideshow? I’d have to take the whole thing—taking just part of them would defeat the purpose. Some of them are animated, and one has a soundtrack, so I also wonder about whether that changes anything. Thanks!

Sincerely, Francis

Dear Francis,

I’d like to go to that presentation! As I understand it, you want to use some material from other work (maybe academic? maybe journalistic?) as examples of an issue you want to discuss. If you’re presenting in the U.S., do investigate whether fair use will work for your case. As you make your decisions, your best friend is ICA’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Communication Research. Read the introduction and the second category! Certainly, such a use, as you describe it, would be transformative (that is, using the original work for a different purpose), and you have a clear reason for taking the entire visualization. Fair use applies to all media and works on all platforms, so you are on solid ground using different media. But as fair use is always justified in context, you need to make your own judgment on each one. The ICA Code makes that easy.


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

Tags:  March 2018 

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