What Is Fair Use?: A Short Introduction from the Maker of Everything is a Remix

Back in 2010, we began fea­tur­ing a series of videos from film­mak­er Kir­by Fer­gu­son. Called Every­thing is a Remix, the four-part video series explored the idea that (to quote from one of my ear­li­er posts) “great art doesn’t come out of nowhere. Artists inevitably bor­row from one anoth­er, draw­ing on past ideas and con­ven­tions, and then turn these mate­ri­als into some­thing beau­ti­ful and new.” That applies to musi­cians, film­mak­ers, tech­nol­o­gists, and real­ly any­one in a cre­ative space.

If you would like to watch the orig­i­nal series in its total­i­ty, I would refer you to the video below. Above, you can now watch a new Kir­by Fer­gu­son video that delves into the con­cept of Fair Use–a con­cept defined by the Stan­ford Copy­right and Fair Use web­site essen­tial­ly as “any copy­ing of copy­right­ed mate­r­i­al done for a lim­it­ed and ‘trans­for­ma­tive’ pur­pose, such as to com­ment upon, crit­i­cize, or par­o­dy a copy­right­ed work.” They go on to say:  “Such uses can be done with­out per­mis­sion from the copy­right own­er. In oth­er words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copy­right infringe­ment. If your use qual­i­fies as a fair use, then it would not be con­sid­ered an infringe­ment.”

Need­less to say, fair use is an impor­tant con­cept if you’re mak­ing your own videos on Youtube, or if you’re a teacher using media in the class­room.

By the end of his short video, if you’re still not clear what Fer­gu­son means by Fair Use, you’re in luck. He’s giv­ing you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to sub­mit ques­tions to be answered by “a real live lawyer in a fol­low up video.” He also includes extra resources at the end of the seg­ment.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.