"Fair Use" for Everybody in the Blogosphere


American University's Center for Social Media director Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, co-director of AU's law school's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property have issued an intriguing report, Recut, Reframe, Recycle. That report argues that the "fair use" of copyrighted films, videos, songs, and books applies to private citizens in the blogosphere. The authors discuss nine areas in which fair use can be appropriately asserted, including satire, negative commentary, positive commentary, quoting for discussion, illustrating a point, incidental use, personal reportage, archiving of vulnerable materials, pastiche or collage (mash-ups). They argue:

Fair use is the part of copyright law that permits new makers, in some situations, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying the owners. The courts tell us that fair use should be "transformative"—adding value to what they take and using it for a purpose different from the original work. So when makers mash up several works—say, The Ten Commandments , Ben-Hur and 10 Things I Hate about You , making Ten Things I Hate about Commandments —they aren't necessarily stealing. They are quoting in order to make a new commentary on popular culture, and creating a new piece of popular culture.

Unfortunately, this emerging, participatory media culture is at risk, with new industry practices to control piracy. Large content holders such as NBC Universal and Viacom, and online platforms such as MySpace and Veoh are already crafting agreements on removing copyrighted material from the online sites. Legal as well as illegal copying could all too easily disappear. Worse still, a new generation of media makers could grow up with a deformed and truncated notion of their rights as creators.

Link to the AU report, including a bunch of interesting videos to illustrate their points, here.

reason writers have been reporting and commenting on this area for years; see some links here, here, and here.