Scholars and lawyers working with under the aegis of the Communication School at American UniversityÂ have compiled a “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video.” That title might leadÂ videographers, amateur film-makers and digital activists to conclude thatÂ the PDFÂ will teach them how muchÂ copyrighte material they can legallyÂ snip and remix withoutÂ getting sued into the next plane of existence by theÂ ghost of Jack Valenti.
But theÂ blog summaryÂ says:Â
“This code of best practices does not tell you the limits of fair use rights.”
So what gives? I would guess that theÂ lawyers and academicians who assembled this work are passionate about the importance of fair use, because they say things like:
“Copyright law has several features that permit quotations from copyrighted works without permission or payment, under certain conditions. Fair use is the most important of these features. It has been an important part of copyright law for more than 150 years. Where it applies, fair use is a right, not a mere privilege. In fact, as the Supreme Court has pointed out, fair use keeps copyright from violating the First Amendment. As copyright protects more works for longer periods than ever before, it makes new creation harder. As a result, fair use is more important today than ever before.”
Such strong words practicallyÂ exhortÂ a person to test the limits of fair use at a time when copyright is being misapplied even by the Associated Press, which ought to be safe-guarding free speech instead of licensing it out inÂ five-word increments.Â
But offering legal advice exposes its issuer to liability and culpability because, to quote the old saw, the devil is always in the details. Which remark, I hasten to add, does not mean to injure or defame the reputation of Jack Valenti by insinuating that he is or ever was the devil, or the devil’s agent or assign, or that Jack Valenti might be, even now, sweating in that eternal hot tub down below, with aÂ Margarita inÂ one hand and a babe in the other, as he barks instructions into his Bluetooth telling the Hollywood law firm ofÂ Â Letz Fukem Butgood to prosecute another batch ofÂ college students for illegal downloads.
I suspect that a careful study of this Best Practices guide, and its associated links, will help you understand how other audio-visual creators have made use of this vital principle of fair use without losing their lives, their fortunes,or their sacred honors. Yet.