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So you have a fair use question?

You have a fair use question. Congratulations on exercising your fair use rights, which expand your freedom of expression! Your first resort, when you have a fair use question, is to find out if a community has created a code of best practices in fair use that would apply to you. Here is a list of the extant codes of best practices in fair use. 

 
Documentary Filmmaker's Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

And others!

You'll read the relevant documents, and ask yourself which situation or category best fits your case. You'll ask yourself if your use falls within the fair use principles and limitations discussed. If you are comfortable with the fit between your practice and the best practices discussed in the codes, then proceed with confidence in your fair use. If you have doubts, test out your rationale for your practice with colleagues and friends who can help you test your reasoning. In some cases you might want to look at more resources on the fair use page. For instance, there are many good examples of successful fair use in documentary film available on the site, here. We also post a new fair use question and answer every month. Check through these to see if there's one that's similar to your question, and maybe the answer will help you, too. For more Fair Use Questions of the Month, check here.

FUQOTM September 2008: Do Cable and the Networks Even Accept Fair Use?

FUQOTM October 2008: Posting News Clips On The Internet

FUQOTM November 2008: Using Found Archival Material

FUQOTM December 2009: Public Performance Rights

FUQOTM January 2009: Parody & Satire

FUQOTM May 2009: Students Using Copyrighted Music in School Projects

FUQOTM June 2009: Citing Sources

FUQOTM July 2009: Free Legal Advice for Fair Use

FUQOTM August 2009: Using Copyrighted Images on Fan Sites

FUQOTM September 2009: Fair Use Checklists

FUQOTM November 2009: Clearing Music

FUQOTM December 2009: It's fair use in my film, but what about the film website?

FUQOTM January 2010: I'm using a clip from a TV show to make a music video

FUQOTM February 2010: The material I want to use has unlicensed footage in it

FUQOTM May 2010: Can I post recordings of me playing a video game?

FUQOTM July 2010: Right to privacy v. fair use

FUQOTM August 2010: Is it fair use out of the classroom?

FUQOTM September 2010: How do I fairly use YouTube videos?

FUQOTM October 2010: Transforming the lyrics of a popular song

FUQOTM December 2010: Screening a DVD to a focus group

FUQOTM January 2011: Is there a "Ten Percent" rule? <- featured in Reclaiming Fair Use!

FUQOTM February 2011: I have access, but do I need permission?

FUQOTM March 2011: My Video Disappeared from YouTube...Now What? <- featured in Reclaiming Fair Use!

FUQOTM May 2011: I Have Permission From The Performers, But What About The Music Rights? <- featured in Reclaiming Fair Use!

FUQOTM July 2011: Resources for Teaching Fair Use

FUQOTM August 2011: Parody, Satire, and Fair Use <- featured in Reclaiming Fair Use!

FUQOTM September 2011: Orphan Works <- featured in Reclaiming Fair Use!

FUQOTM October 2011: Still Shots & Machinima

FUQOTM November 2011: Why Do My Students Need To Learn About Fair Use?

FUQOTM January 2012: What About Four Factor Checklists?

FUQOTM February 2012: Copying a VHS to a DVD for Educational Purposes

FUQOTM March 2012: Digitizing To Preserve At-Risk Items

FUQOTM April 2012: Library Exhibits Online

FUQOTM May 2012: Archiving Online Material for a LIbrary Collection

FUQOTM June 2012: Digitizing & Streaming Videos from a University Library

FUQOTM September 2012: Starting the Semester with Fair Use

If you will be consulting with a lawyer, make sure you bring a copy of the relevant code of best practices with you to the lawyer's office. Your lawyer may not be up to date on current practice! If you find that your query falls outside a community's code of best practices, you can always ask yourself the two most basic questions that any fair user inevitably must ask: 1) am I reusing copyrighted material for its original purpose (for which there is a market) or am I repurposing/transforming the material? 2) am I only using as much as is appropriate for that new use? The Center has been active in facilitating the creation of codes of best practices by several communities, in conjunction with the Washington College of Law at American University. All of the Codes of Best Practices have been scrutinized and approved by legal advisory committee. But no one at the Center for Media & Social Impact is a lawyer and no one can help you reach a fair use determination. If you need pro bono legal assistance, there are Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts chapters in many cities. You might also, if you have the time, consider presenting your problem to an intellectual property clinic (a service of law students under supervision by their professors) at one of these locations: Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, Cambridge MA Center for Intellectual Property Law and Information Technology, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago IL Franklin Pierce Law Center, Pierce Law, Concord NH Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, DC Intellectual Property and the Arts Clinic, Vanderbilt University Law Schoo, Nashville, TN Intellectual Property and Nonprofit Organizations Clinic, Washington University Law School Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California, Los Angeles CA Intellectual Property Law Clinic, University of Maine School of Law, Portland ME Intellectual Property Law Clinic, William Mitchell College of Law, Minneapolis MN Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, CA Samuelson-Glushko Intellectual Property and Information Law Clinic, Fordham School of Law, Fordham University, New York If you have read through the codes and considered all of the points addresses above and still feel that you have a fair use question, use the form below to submit your inquiry. Thank you!