Fair Use

Presentation documents for the AAMC Group on Faculty Affairs conference later this week have been posted. I noticed in one of the presenter’s PowerPoint slides several humorous images taken from the web to illustrate her points.

Adding stock images to academic presentations has become so routine that we don’t think about the legality of using someone else’s content. After all, what’s the likelihood that the copyright holder for a movie poster will sue a professor who has co-opted it to liven up a talk?

A new book argues that academics should familiarize themselves with the legal concept of fair use. 9780226032283The authors warn that even if your use of licensed content is educational, it still must follow the guidelines for fair use. Judges have used two questions to determine if an appropriation counts as fair use:

  1. Do you employ the content for a different use than the owner created it for?
  2. Do you use enough of the content to achieve that new purpose?

If the answers are yes, you probably have a strong standing to claim fair use. If not, you may be violating copyright. Academics understand that all knowledge builds on existing ideas, but you still have to give credit to those who came before you.

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