Fair Use Principles for Journalists

set of principles in fair use in journalismCopyrights and fair use are confusing terms with a huge gray area that is often left to subjective interpretation. In an attempt to create a guide for journalists around matters related to fair use, chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Online News Association, and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies have released a Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism.

The effort to develop these principles spanned 10 cities nationwide, included 17 meetings, and was facilitated by Professor Patricia Aufderheide and Professor Peter Jaszi of American University. The principles have already been endorsed by the Poynter Institute, New America Media, and more.

The principles are intended to help clear up some of the gray areas surrounding the standard tests judges most often use to decide matters of fair use so journalists can make better decisions about copyrights in their work. Furthermore, the principles may serve as an industry-accepted document that could be used to defend journalists’ work in matters of fair use and copyrights in the future.

Last week, the Poynter Institute published the Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism, which you can download in HTML or PDF format. The principles cover seven common fair use situations that journalists often have to consider as they do their jobs:

  1. Incorporation of copyrighted material captured incidentally and fortuitously in the process of recording and disseminating news.
  2. Use of copyrighted material as proof or substantiation in news reporting or analysis.
  3. When copyrighted material is used in cultural reporting and criticism.
  4. When copyrighted material is used as illustration in news reporting or analysis.
  5. When copyrighted material is used as historical reference in news reporting or analysis.
  6. Using copyrighted material for the specific purpose of starting or expanding a public discussion of news.
  7. Quoting from copyrighted material to add value and knowledge to evolving news.

For each of the above seven situations, the document explains the principle that covers the situation and any limitations that exist related to “incidental capture, proof, use in cultural journalism, illustration, historical reference, and to foster public discussion.”

A Power Point presentation,which was delivered by Patricia Aufderheide at TEDx Poynter on June 7, 2013, is included below to give you an overview of what the Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism covers. It’s something anyone who writes or publishes content should review.

 

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