Fair Use

I was fortunate to have Professor Kuhn from the School of Cinematic Arts at USC join me once again. This time we talk about fair use and how ideas about media remix are changing.
The four criteria Professor Kuhn mentioned are:
Purpose (ex. non-commercial, educational)
Nature (ex. criticism, scholarship, news, satire, teaching) Amount used (ex. use no more than is necessary to achieve goals)
Effect on Market (ex. an assessment is made of the potential harm to the market for the copyrighted work caused by the new work)
More sources on fair use: http://www.publaw.com/work.html The video is meant to be informational, not legal, in content. Specific legal questions about specific work should be directed to a legal professional.
I find Professor Kuhn’s opinions very interesting and I hope this video circulates. Pass it on!
Please note that this is a research site and that comments posted to the site may be used in research. For more information about the study and how posted comments are used in research please see: https://anthrovlog.wordpress.com/about/

2 Responses to “Fair Use”

  1. May 16, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Hi, this was an interesting discussion. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I create original stuff all the time, and I don’t mind when people want to refer to our work (Jamie and I) but I have run into issues where people that I’ve interviewed were very skeptical about allowing me to do any recording at all, because they had had their music taken and used for various purposes – sound tracks of films etc.

    I know that this is clearly more than fair use, and I know that there are several slippery slopes that are happening here. I have to say, I was a bit shocked by the professor’s comment that “in some ways the remix culture is just a word scrabble…rather than a slippery slope…I celebrate it” A word scramble? Sort of like – say using oil paint, mixing lots of colors, and since these colors exist – then clearly I have the rights to a painting? Or electrons, we use them all the time, and the internet is just an electron scramble, so….

    Further more, her blithe suggestion that we do it more and more, and that none of us are doing anything original anyway – wow.

    What started out as a reasonable discussion of fair use seemed to end up a free for all. Am I wrong?
    Milt Lee

  2. 2 anthrovlog
    May 24, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Hi Milt,

    Thanks so much for your comment. These thoughts are exactly why I wanted to post this video. I hoped to engage with video bloggers, artists, and others and hear how they feel about them. The video was made in the context of fair use, so we’re talking about using media in a very specific way. It is a concept meant to increase people’s ability to say things. So for example, a professor who wants to quote an image from a film or video blog should not have to ask permission or pay, because, for instance, scholars might not be able to afford it. If the creator does not agree with the analysis they can withhold permission and this limits free speech. So there are certain genres such as critique, research, journalism, and satire, where using only a small portion of the work (just enough to make the point) is often considered fair use. Professor Kuhn was certainly not suggesting that people violate copyright and she gave an example in the video of something people might not realize is a violation.

    What media scholars are suggesting in terms of the remix issue (also see my interview with Henry Jenkins called Participatory Cultures) is that many of the things we think of as made by single individuals are often mash-ups or remixes of many different artistic ideas and forms. Imagine if Michelangelo had to secure permission and pay for the ideas from the Bible he appropriated in order to paint the Sistine chapel. This work was not completely original; it depended upon people knowing prior art, which were stories from the Bible. Many media scholars argue that art is intensely derivative in many ways. The question is, to what extent does an idea as executed in art become a kind of small unit, like a word, that can be put together with other artistic ideas to form something new. One interpretation is that the small units are part of common visual ideas but how they are put together becomes the source of originality, which should be protected legally, especially if a new work impacts the prior work financially. No one in the video was advocating a free for all. I only expressed my observation that the more I make media, the less patient I become with rules and restrictions on it. I wondered if other people, who are more experienced than I am in making media ever feel this way. But I very much understand the importance of protecting work. In fact, I use a creative commons license myself on every video I make.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.


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