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Question of the Month

Fair Use Question of the Month: Advancing Other Journalists' Work

Dear CMSI,

I work for an online agricultural newsletter and we’re doing ongoing analysis and coverage of the aftermath of a tragic natural disaster that recently hit the Midwest. Our expertise is really in agricultural science, and we depend on other sites to do the breaking-news stuff. What we want to do is put that breaking news into context and explain its implications for the farming operations in the region and the national services they link up to. Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Orphan Works in Historical Reporting

Dear CMSi,

I am a local reporter in Bedford Falls.  Recently, an old Main Street storefront that was condemned was taken down, as part of a major restructuring of the business section of town. I’d like to run some pictures of the different businesses that occupied that storefront, and in the town archives I discovered some great old photos. It would make a great Sunday feature, and I think we could even sell it as a supplement during the Bedford Falls Centennial. Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Copyrighted Material as Documentation

Dear CMSI,

I’m a reporter for the Events and Styles section for my newspaper. Last week I was at a music awards event, where I saw one of the posters advertising the event had a hilarious typo in it. I want to run that poster with a blooper caption in the paper. Do I have to ask the publicist for the music awards for permission? I want to use the whole poster; otherwise, it won't make sense. Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Facebook Pictures in News Reports

Dear CMSI,

I’m a reporter for a local TV news program. Recently a high school student in my town went missing and we couldn’t decide if it would be OK to use some of her Facebook pictures in announcing the news. I hope this is the last time this happens, but it won’t be the last time we turn to FB or Instagram or Pinterest to get an idea of who someone is. Can you settle this newsroom argument? Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Crowdsourcing Journalism

Dear CMSI,

fine print

I’m doing a story on the use of highly technical language in Terms and Conditions clauses, and yesterday I found a really brilliant example on an application form I had to fill out. I’d like to post the relevant page online alongside the article when I’m finished and ask readers to weigh in on how to make the writing clearer, but I assume the text is copyrighted. Do I need the company’s permission before I can post it or is this a fair use? Read more...