Copyright and Fair Use

This week’s Using the Social Web for Social Change class at BGI had my classmates and I digging into legal stuff concerning: copyright, patents, trademarks and fair use.

Many of my classmates are working on videos for their social change projects. If you, like those in my class are interested in creating in this medium it is essential that you take a few hours and familiarize yourself with the terminology and legal constraints associated with producing and distributing video. First off, start with these three concise and readable posts:

IP & Copyright, Copyleft & Trademark, and Patents, Trade Secrets & Licenses

Next you want to get a handle on “Fair Use”. Check out Fair Use & Copyright by the Center for Social Media. In a nutshell, “Fair Use” lets you, as a creator of video use bits and pieces of others’ copyrighted works without permission if your work follows several best practices:

  • One: Employing copyrighted material as the object of social, political, or cultural critique
  • Two: Quoting copyrighted works of popular culture to illustrate an argument or point
  • Three: Capturing copyrighted media content in the process of filming something else
  • Four: Using copyrighted material in a historical sequence

There is some fine print for the above situations. I recommend reading the very concise: Best Practices in Fair Use Guide, Recut Reframe Recycle and visit the Center for Social Media for more info.

Happy filmmaking!

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