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Fair Use and Documentary Film

Code of Best Practices

Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use
Documentary filmmakers have created, through their professional associations, a clear, easy to understand statement of fair and reasonable approaches to fair use. Download this useful handbook, written by veteran filmmakers to help other filmmakers understand some instances where using copyrighted material without clearance is considered fair use.

Read the PDF or the online version of the Statement.


Other Resources

Fair Use and Best Practices: Surprising Success
Aufderheide and Jaszi discuss the successes of the Statement of Best Practices in an article published in Intellectual Property Today.

Success of the Statement of Best Practices
The Statement has provoked dramatic change in the industry since it was released in November 2005. PBS and ITVS have used the Statement to release programs, and so have cablecasters including IFC. All four of the national errors and omissions insurers now issue fair use coverage routinely, as a result of the Statement.

Untold Stories: Creative Consequences of the Rights Clearance Culture
This study explores the implications of the rights clearance process on documentary filmmaking, and makes recommendations to lower costs, reduce frustration, and promote creativity. It focuses on the creative experience of independent, professional documentary filmmakers.

"Yes, You Can!"--Where You Don't Even Need 'Fair Use'
This helpful guide by Peter Jaszi offers insight into what falls into the category of free use.