Thursday, August 25, 2011

New book makes pitch for resurgence of the Fair Use doctrine in copyright law

Amazon link

Authors: Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi

Title: "Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright"

Publication: University of Chicago Press, 2011; ISBN 978-0-226-03228-3; 200 pages, paper, indexed, five appendices

We hear about copyright infringement allegations by Internet users almost every day now, to the point that a few businesses, especially Righthaven, most recently, have been set up to troll the Internet for possible violators.  We’ve heard a lot about copyright and P2P with all the older RIAA lawsuits, and about the Safer Harbor provision of the DMCA.

This book traces the history of – the decline and recent resurgence of the Fair Use provisions of Copyright law in the United States, particularly by Internet speakers and most specifically by documentary filmmakers.

In earlier times, legal conventions tended to favor the idea that copyright owners or publishers could monopolize the industry and hinder the appearance of critical and competitive materials.

In film, and in other media projects, there are many practical obstacles for obtaining permissions in many cases, which studio or investor lawyers are likely to demand. For example, a license might stipulate that the filmmaker or writer cannot criticize the source of the media used, which would undermine the integrity of the work.

When one claims Fair Use, one does not ask for specific permission from the content copyright owner.
The book maintains that industry codes of best practices are the best way to win both copyright owners and judges over to more support of Fair Use in practice.

In 2008 American University released the Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use, link here. There are similar codes at this site, such as the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video, link

Here is Jaszi speaking the Fair Use Keynote at a USC conference in 2008:

(For some reason, Amazon direct link "gadget" from Blogger is not working for me now.)

Cynthia Close reviews this book in the Winter 2012 issue of "", review not available online yet  (see Bill Boushka blog Dec. 15, 2011).  

1 comment:

Patricia Aufderheide said...

Thanks so much for your attention to the book! We believe that the book's inclusion of examples, mini-quizzes (Fair Use: You Be the Judge!), and a "Myths and Misunderstandings" section will be helpful to readers who may want to test their knowledge, too.