Creating a Video to Help Educate People on Fair Use

    by Mark Glaser
    August 4, 2008


    Last week, I ran the first part of a special three-part series on fair use in online video. With the release of the new Code of Best Practices in Fair Use of Online Video, the question was how this Code might help video producers, remixers and mash-up artists use copyrighted works legally under “fair use” rules.

    In the first part, the respondents in this email roundtable talked about what the Code means, how they might put it into practice, and some thoughts on the way artists work without thinking about the law. Now we turn to ways that people think the Code could be spread, and what role the video-sharing sites might play in that. While representatives of YouTube, Veoh and Blip.tv were informed of the discussion or watched the discussion play out over email, none of them have commented publicly about what they think of the Code.


    Most people have said they like what the Code says, but how can it be spread into the world of video producers? Can sites such as YouTube and Veoh help educate video mixers and producers in some way?

    political video mash-up artist at ThePartyParty.com

    Why not make an “Idiot’s Guide to Fair Use and Best Practices” video, post it to YouTube, with YouTube featuring it on their homepage? It’s sort of in their interest to do it, and as I said, I found the Best Practices very helpful. Sort of like knowing how to balance your checkbook, which I’m not very good at either.


    Peter Jaszi
    law professor at American University and co-chair of the Code of Best Practices committee

    I know that Blip.tv has alerted its users to the existence and value of the Code, and we hope that other sites will do likewise. Our experience with the Documentary Filmmakers’ statement also suggests that — even in this day and age — it’s important to get durable paper copies into the hands of as many makers as possible. And, of course, the Code itself and various related materials are available at the Center for Social Media website.

    Soon, we’ll be opening a space in which controversial examples will be posted to generate discussion around what’s fair and what’s not. Incidentally, I love the idea of a video illustrating fair use and the application of the Code. That’s something we need to work on.

    JD Lasica
    co-founder of Ourmedia media-sharing site, new media expert and videoblogger

    That’s a great idea, rx! Seriously. I could see a collaborative effort. Maybe a round-robin of participants talking about various aspects of the code for 30-60 seconds apiece, with someone stitching it all together. I’ll take part, if others will.

    I suspect we won’t see the video hosting sites incorporate the Code into their upload process, for both user-interface and legal reasons. Anything that slows down the process is a barrier. Anything that offers a hint of legal advice worries the lawyers. But I hope we will see some sites either point to the Code from somewhere on their site — perhaps as part of a Learning Center or Community Forums or Customer Support — or summarize its chief points.

    Too many sites are still wearing blinders and leaving their users to fend for themselves. Certainly, most users won’t care — they want to produce videos, not read legal guidelines — but the Code can help inform those who want to dive deeper or those who want to know why their content was removed.

    Owen Gallagher
    digital media entrepreneur; founder of TotalRecut, a network of fans and creators of video remixes, recuts, and mash-ups

    I really like rx and JD’s idea too, and I think it could be a great way to help expose the Code to the world of online video producers. Another thought could be to run a video remix challenge, similar to the one we’re hosting on Total Recut at the moment (What is Remix Culture?), to get people thinking about what the Code and fair use itself really means to them and to help others better understand the concepts involved.

    I do agree with rx’s earlier point, however, that the last thing an artist is thinking about when creating art is the law. Sometimes the boundaries of the law need to be tested in order to create new industries and new ways of doing things. After all, and rather ironically, this is how Hollywood itself became established, right? Pirates using Edison’s patented motion picture methods fled to the West Coast where it was more difficult for the MPPC to enforce its patents. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    In terms of video hosting sites incorporating the Code, I feel that JD’s instinct is right and most of the major sites would be unlikely to slow down their upload procedure or get involved in potential legal entanglements as long as they can avoid it. I do think, however, that some of the niche sites like RemixAmerica.org or our own TotalRecut.com are in a good position to adopt the code in a meaningful way and I would hope that we can effectively do so in the near future.


    Stay tuned for the final part of this email roundtable, which will cover the possibility of changing the copyright law so that remixers and other online video producers can better understand what they can use legally in their mash-ups.

    Tagged: center for social media education fair use

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