Friday, August 15, 2008

Copyright and Fair Use

With millions of people creating their own content and uploading it to the Web in the form of blogs, photographs, videos, music--essentially any form of media that can be digitized--issues of copyright and what constitutes fair use, have been getting a work out.

Some may be aware of the high profile case where a family posted a 29 second video of their toddler to YouTube with a Prince song playing in the background on their CD player. The family was contacted by YouTube at the request of Prince's publisher, the Universal Music Publishing Group, to take the video down as they felt it infringed on the copyright of the Prince song.

And while the family chose to fight back against Universal and what they felt was an overzealous example of copyright protection, the case revealed, if anything, just how uninformed many of us are when it comes to what constitutes copyright infringement and what merits fair use.

That being said, a wonderfully readable new comic, Bound By Law, free and available online, walks those posting video online through the basics of copyright law and that terribly fine line between copyright infringement (bad!) and fair use (good!).

Additionally, American University's Center For Social Media has brought together a panel of experts working in the field of online video to create a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use For Online Video. As its introduction plainly states: "This document is a code of best practices that helps creators, online providers, copyright holders, and others interested in the making of online video interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use."

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