Monday, August 25, 2014

Proposed Fair Use Guidelines

Dear Rich: We recently created a series of free-to-view educational webinars with an educational institute, which we would like to post online in a secured environment. The educator has included numerous images of artwork that is under copyright. Under the proposed fair use guidelines, educators, scholars, and students may use or display digital images in connection with lectures or presentations in their fields, including uses at noncommercial professional development seminars, workshops, and conferences. Are we able to use this material without getting copyright permissions for each individual artwork? As we explained at our Stanford postings, the proposed guidelines, because they were never approved,  provide a ballpark idea of what may be permissible. They can help educators and judges chart a fair use course, and their existence might deter a copyright owner from filing a lawsuit, but most importantly, they represent the collective understanding of a group of scholars as to what constitutes fair use under certain circumstances. So, even though it's gray world when it comes to these two-decade-old proposed guidelines, there is reasonable support for your position. If we were a betting blog, we'd bet you won't get hassled for your use. By the way, there are many types of fair use guidelines and you can access them at Columbia's website.