In the increasingly complex and combative arena of copyright in the digital age, record companies sue college students over peer-to-peer music sharing, YouTube removes home movies because of a song playing in the background, and filmmakers are denied a distribution deal when some permissions “i” proves undottable. Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi chart a clear path through the confusion by urging a robust embrace of a principle long-embedded in copyright law, but too often poorly understood—fair use. By challenging the widely held notion that current copyright law has become unworkable and obsolete in the era of digital technologies, Reclaiming Fair Use promises to reshape the debate in both scholarly circles and the creative community.
This indispensable guide distills the authors’ years of experience advising documentary filmmakers, English teachers, performing arts scholars, and other creative professionals into no-nonsense advice and practical examples for content producers. Reclaiming Fair Use begins by surveying the landscape of contemporary copyright law—and the dampening effect it can have on creativity—before laying out how the fair-use principle can be employed to avoid copyright violation. Finally, Aufderheide and Jaszi summarize their work with artists and professional groups to develop best practice documents for fair use and discuss fair use in an international context. Appendixes address common myths about fair use and provide a template for creating the reader’s own best practices. Reclaiming Fair Use will be essential reading for anyone concerned with the law, creativity, and the ever-broadening realm of new media.