What Is Fair Use? (10:21)

Posted on by Abby Johnson |

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What is legally classified as Fair Use? It’s a question that is puzzling to many. With the number of content producers increasing as a result of the Internet, it is even more important that the issue of Fair Use is understood.

To clarify, WebProNews spoke with Pat Aufderheide, the Executive Director for the Center of Social Media at American University, and Attorney Michael Donaldson of Donaldson & Callif. According to Aufderheide, Fair Use is a part of copyright law that gives people the right to use other people’s copyrighted material without licensing it, paying for it, or even asking permission for it. However, there are circumstances in which Fair Use is misused.

As Donaldson explains, Fair Use is rooted in the First Amendment. He says, “If you keep in mind the First Amendment origins of Fair Use, you’ll have a good starting point.”

If your argument of Fair Use is tested in court, judges will ask if material was used in a way that was different from the original, and if the material was used in a way to produce a profit. To be legal, it must be used in a free speech way and not a way that takes market value from the original.

Bloggers often receive grief from mass media in regards to quotes and other material. Some of the grief is merited since some bloggers simply copy and paste an article into their blog. While the law is probably not in favor of this usage, bloggers do have the right to pull some quotes, images, and video from publishers, as long as they are used in the right context.

Although the law is vague, Aufderheide says, “I don’t think this is such a thorny area of expression as it might seem..”

How do you interpret Fair Use?

Posted in: Digital Media, Legal, Michael Donaldson, Pat Aufderheide, SXSW Interactive 2010
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