Best practices for online video

The explosion of online video has raised lots of questions about copyright and fair use. When is it legal to post a chunk of someone else’s video for free? What about the entire work? Can you mashup, remix or alter someone else’s video without penalty? Today, the Center for Social Media at American University is offering some suggested answers in a new code of best practices. AU professor Pat Aufderheide tells Broadcasting & Cable:

We think it will help creators in this exciting new realm to get and stay legal, and will also help copyright-holders understand when it’s actually fair to use their material without paying for it.

The code takes a broadly permissive view of what can be done with online video. Among the highlights:

  • Video makers have the right to use as much of the original work as they need to in order to put it under some kind of scrutiny or start a discussion about it.
  • Video makers may quote copyrighted material (for instance, music, video, photographs, animation, text) because it aptly illustrates an argument or a point.
  • Video makers may recombine elements of copyrighted works if they create new meaning by juxtaposition.
  • Video makers may use copyrighted sounds and images when they are recorded in everyday settings.
  • One important principle that underlies all of these exceptions is good faith. And one way to prove it, the code’s authors say, is to provide credit or attribution.


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