This week is Fair Use Week, where we celebrate the Fair Use doctrine and take a look at howit allows us to interact with the creations in the world around us, especially online. Fair Use is a limitation on the exclusive rights of copyright holders (discussed in section 107 of Copyright Law) to help preserve the First Amendment right of free speech and promote conversation for purposes such as "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research."
The main principle behind fair use is that there are situations and instances in which people can use copyrighted materials without permission. It is a broad and flexible concept that is only specifically defined as copyright infringement cases go to court. There are some basic situations, such as in educational and research settings, that generally are deemed fair use, but hard and fast rules are difficult to define.
Fair use is especially important to the vast majority of the teaching and research that is done here at ASU, but it also touches on our individual, daily activities. Without fair use:
- John Oliver wouldn’t be able to show video clips on Last Week Tonight;
- Buffy vs Edward would be taken down for copyright infringement;
- most of Weird Al Yankovic’s career wouldn’t be possible;
- we wouldn’t see thumbnail images in internet search results;
- teachers wouldn’t be able to post articles or other course readings in Blackboard;
- we wouldn’t be able to have fan sites that include images, screenshots, or excerpts, such as Westeros.org
- current Wikipedia articles, such as the one about Beyonce’s “Formation” that include analysis, images, and quotations from news sources, wouldn’t be allowed;
- you wouldn’t be able to post your own Gangnam Style videos, or any other mashups or internet memes.
We are able to have an incredibly rich scholarly, creative, and popular culture, thanks in a large part to fair use!
For Fair Use Week activities and news, visit our Fair Use Library Guide