ScreenSite Data: Fair Use

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23 Links to Fair Use Resources

Afterdawn, Numerous how-to guides and other resources for making fair-use back-ups of DVDs. (last updated: 12 Apr 2011)

Best Practices For Fair Use in Teaching, SCMS Public Policy Committee's statement on fair use and teaching. (last updated: 31 Mar 2012)

Center for Social Media: Best Practices for Fair Use, Several "best practices" statements related to fair use and media studies. Suggested "best practices" fair-use codes for:

  • Academic and Research Libraries
  • Poetry
  • OpenCourseWare
  • Media Literacy Education
  • Online Video
  • Documentary Filmmaking
  • Images for Teaching, Research and Study
(last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

Center for Social Media: Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Literacy Education, A a code of best practices that helps educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. From the Website: Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant. It is a general right that applies even in situations where the law provides no specific authorization for the use in question—as it does for certain narrowly defined classroom activities. This guide identifies five principles that represent the media literacy education community’s current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials, wherever and however it occurs: in K–12 education, in higher education, in nonprofit organizations that offer programs for children and youth, and in adult education. (last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

Copyright Term and the Public Domain, Handy chart showing when various films/TV programs/etc. enter the public domain. Created by Peter B. Hirtle, Cornell University. (last updated: 12 Apr 2011)

Critical Commons, A public media archive and fair use advocacy network that supports the transformative reuse of media in scholarly and creative contexts. From the Website: Critical Commons is part of the technical and conceptual architecture for numerous electronic publishing efforts that directly engage media as objects of analysis, curation and critique. At the heart of Critical Commons is an online platform for viewing, tagging, sharing, annotating curating and spreading media. Our goal is to build open, informed communities around media-based research, teaching, learning and creativity. And although we are huge fans of their work, please note that Critical Commons is not affiliated in any way with Creative Commons. (last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

Doom9 - Fair-Use DVD backups, The definitive DVD backup resource. Numerous guides explain how to make Fair-Use copies of DVD video. (last updated: 12 Apr 2011)

Educational Uses of Media, Frequently Asked Questions about the 2009 educational exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (last updated: 12 Jun 2013)

Electronic Frontier Foundation, Defending freedom in the digital world. From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990 — well before the Internet was on most people's radar — and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights. Blending the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, EFF achieves significant victories on behalf of consumers and the general public. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations. By mobilizing more than 61,000 concerned citizens through ourAction Center, EFF beats back bad legislation. In addition to advising policymakers, EFF educates the press and public. EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit and depends on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Litigation is particularly expensive; because two-thirds of our budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight — and win — more cases.   (last updated: 30 Aug 2011)

Fair Usage Publication of Film Stills, Kristin Thompson makes the case for the fair use of frame grabs in academic publications. From the article: "One important facet of the rise of cinema as an academic discipline  has been a new concern to illustrate articles and books with frame enlargements rather than publicity photos. Publicity photos are made  on the set with still cameras, to simulate a scene in the film. They almost invariably use different framings and lighting set-ups than are  used during the filming of the scene with the motion-picture camera.  Some publicity photos even represent actions that are not displayed  in the finished film. Such photos can be of use for certain purposes,  as when historians study lost footage from films like Greed or The  Magnificent Ambersons. For purposes of analyzing finished films,  however, many scholars believe that photographs made from frames  of the actual film strip are preferable, since they reproduce an actual  composition that appears in a shot. The legal status of such reproductions of frames has remained  problematic. Does the use of a frame enlargement violate copyright? Should the scholar contact the copyright holder to obtain permission  to reproduce frames, and, if the firm demands a fee for such permission, does it have to be paid? Similarly, for those scholars who  use publicity photographs, there arises the question of whether their  reproduction requires permission from and payment to a film  company or archive." (last updated: 7 Jul 2014)

Fair User's Manual, A, A quick guide to fair use. From the Website: "The story's always the same: A media giant slaps a small fry with a cease-and-desist order, citing copyright infringement. In defense, the small fry yelps, "Fair use!" But what does that really mean? Ask a hundred lawyers and you'll get a hundred different answers - fair use can be as malleable as obscenity. Crossing the line could earn you a $150,000 fine, no matter how funny that Family Guy WAV file on your homepage is. Thanks to the 1976 US Copyright Act, federal judges decide whether your use of someone else's material is fair or foul. The courts ask four key questions..." (last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

Fair(y) Use Tale, A, Eric Faden's humorous, yet informative, [video] review of copyright principles. "Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, [video] review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms." (last updated: 12 Jun 2013)

Fair-Use Resources at IUPUI, Index of fair-use resources prepared by Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis. (last updated: 7 Sep 2011)

Frame Grab Tutorial, How to make fair-use frame grabs. Designed for students/teachers using video material in teaching and research. Sponsored by, the companion Web site for Television: Critical Methods and Applications. (last updated: 18 Apr 2012)

FreeCulture, An international student movement for free culture. The mission of the Free Culture movement is to build a bottom-up, participatory structure to society and culture, rather than a top-down, closed, proprietary structure. (last updated: 12 Apr 2011)

How to Rip Blu-ray Discs to MP4, A guide to creating a high definition 1080p MP4 file with H.264 video from a Blu-ray disc, for the purposes of media education. A step-by-step guide to creating video files from Blu-ray discs, using Handbrake (free video-conversion software). Useful for creating fair-use materials to use in teaching situations. (last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

Jason Mittell, "Letting us Rip", Explanation of the right of media academics to rip clips from DVDs. From the blog post: On Monday July 26, 2010, the U.S. Library of Congress released the policy paper, "Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works." This awkwardly titled document is the much-delayed 2009 ruling on exemptions to a particularly nefarious provision in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)—the anti-circumvention policy of the DMCA stipulates that it is illegal to bypass code that locks down a piece of software, hardware or other digital object, even if the resulting use of the copyrighted media is legal. This measure had a huge impact on scholars in a range of disciplines, who found it illegal to extract clips from DVDs to use in class, a lecture, or a digital publication. (last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

Prisoners of Permission: Advancing the Cause of Fair Use , Dr. Ralph Beliveau, University of Oklahoma (last updated: 31 Aug 2013)

Public Knowledge, A U.S. public-interest advocacy organization dedicated to fortifying and defending an information commons. From the Website: Public Knowledge preserves the openness of the Internet and the public’s access to knowledge; promotes creativity through balanced copyright; and upholds and protects the rights of consumers to use innovative technology lawfully. Public Knowledge works at the intersection of copyright, telecommunications, and Internet law, at a time when these fields are converging. PK's experience in all three areas puts it in an ideal position to advocate for policies that serve the public interest. (last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

SCMS Statement on Fair Use, A "Statement of Best Practices" for film and TV instructors to clarify some of the issues concerning the permissible use of media for teaching. The Society for Cinema and Media Studies (“SCMS”) has created this Statement of Best Practices for its membership to clarify some of the issues concerning the permissible use of media for teaching. (last updated: 15 Jul 2013)

Scriptologist Blogs, A free service for creating blogs to network with fellow screenwriters, filmmakers, literary agents, producers, and other film industry professionals. (last updated: 12 Apr 2011)

Videohelp, Helps you make your own VideoCDs, SVCDs or DVDs that can be played on your standalone DVD Player from video sources like DVD, Video, TV, DV, Cam or downloaded movie clips like DivX, MOV, RM, WMV and ASF. Lists of capture cards, DVD media, computer DVD writers, desktop DVD recorders and desktop DVD Players with features, compatibility information and user comments. (last updated: 12 Apr 2011)

When Copying Is Okay: The 'Fair Use' Rule, Discussion of what is and is not 'fair use.' Prepared by Nolo, a provider of do-it-yourself legal solutions for consumers and small businesses. (last updated: 12 Apr 2011)


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Jeremy Butler

Professor Emeritus of Television and Film Studies
The University of Alabama
Teaching media studies.