Of course, this is a reference book. It’s not necessarily designed to be a page-turner. But the specifics help engage the reader while providing real-world examples of how to fairly use unlicensed material. (There are several great sections called “True Tales of Fair Use.” In one, documentary filmmaker Katy Chevigny describes regret over not using a particular piece of news footage featuring Walter Cronkite in her film Deadline.)
The authors include a chapter called “How to Use Fair Use.” Their suggestions are practical and include getting together with like-minded people to make codes of best practices and discovering existing problems that the community has with using copyrighted material. (They also suggest that “lawyers, supervisors, insurers, publishers” don’t always take a creative person’s word for it that fair use is a viable option.)
At the back of the book are several helpful appendices, including a list and the locations online for codes of best practices in fair use and a template for your own code of best practices. There’s even an appendix called “You Be the Judge,” in which there are answers to hypothetical fair use questions that are sprinkled throughout the book.
As the title Reclaiming Fair Use implies, this book is a call to action. “New creators and users need to unlock their mind-forged manacles, assert the rights they have, and understand the vital importance of limiting copyright holders’ rights,” the authors say.
That will make it easier to know whether you’re on safe legal ground for using a twelve-second snippet of Shakur’s “Hit ‘Em Up,” or whether your producers should call Shakur’s estate to arrange licensing.
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