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Question of the Month

Fair Use Question of the Month: Exhibiting Activist Letters

Image by Jim Yardly, Civil Rights, Demonstrations, "March to Freedom," Detroit, 1963Dear CMSI,

I work at a community library and we are planning an exhibit on civil rights demonstrations in the area during the 60s. I found some letters from an activist during that time stashed away in our archives. I think the letters would really add to the exhibit, but I’m worried about copyright and the only information I have about the writer is his first name. Is it okay to put the letters on display? Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Can I Use Footage From a Copy-Protected DVD?

Encrypted DVDDear CMSI,

I’ve been playing with some new remix platforms, and I have a really funny video that does a mashup of similar scenes in three recent popular comedies, plus some old stuff from an educational film. I got the comedy stuff by breaking encryption on the DVDs. Am I in trouble? I can hardly wait to upload it to YouTube, but I don’t want to get busted.   Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Capturing Copyrighted Material in the Background

Dear CMSI,

I work as a documentary filmmaker and for my next shoot, we are filming a lot of scenes in a mall and inside a school. I am worried about all the copyrighted content that might be incidentally shown in the background. Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Showcasing Media Literacy Assignments Outside the Classroom

Dear CMSI,

I teach media literacy in my 8th grade English class, and one of my assignments is to find examples of different media saying the same thing or carrying the same message. The students produce a multi-media work, and some of them are quite impressive. We’d like to showcase them at the school fair and on the school website, but the principal says that we’d be infringing copyright, since it’s outside the classroom. Read more...

Fair Use Question of the Month: Captioning Copyrighted Film for People with Disabilities

DVDsDear CMSI,

I am a librarian at a liberal arts college. Last week a young man who was hearing-disabled asked if we had a film he wanted to use for his chemistry project in captioned audiovisual format. Not only was it not captioned, I couldn’t find anywhere to buy a captioned version of it--it’s an older work.

Can I legally make a captioned copy for him? And can I keep a copy so someone else who’s hearing-disabled could use it too? Read more...