Thursday 19 February 2015

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts

I have just received the following message and, since it seems so relevant to this blog, I thought I'd spread the word.
The College Art Association (CAA) has published the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, a set of principles addressing best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials based on a consensus of opinion developed through discussions with visual-arts professionals. It will be a vital resource for everyone working in the field, including artists, art historians, museum professionals, and editors. Initiated by CAA in 2012, the multi-year effort has been led by the Code’s authors, Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide, professors of law and communication studies respectively at American University and the leading experts on the development of codes for communities that make use of copyrighted materials in their professional practices. 
Linda Downs, CAA executive director, said, “The Code is a crucial contribution to the field as a clear statement on best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials that directly reflects a consensus from the visual-arts community. CAA is grateful to all of the artists, art historians, museum professionals, and editors, among others, who participated in the project so generously with their time and collective knowledge.” 
The Code describes the relevance of fair use in five broad areas of the visual arts field:
  • Analytic Writing: When may scholars and other writers about art invoke fair use to quote, excerpt, or reproduce copyrighted works?
  • Teaching about Art: When may teachers invoke fair use in using copyrighted works to support formal instruction in a range of settings, including online and distance teaching?
  • Making Art: Under what circumstances may artists exercise fair use to incorporate copyrighted material into new artworks in any medium?
  • Museum Uses: When may museums and their staffs invoke fair use in using copyrighted works—such as images, text, and time-based and born-digital material—when organizing exhibitions, developing educational materials (within the museum and online), publishing catalogues, and other related activities?
  • Online Access to Archival and Special Collections: When may such institutions and their staffs claim fair use to create digital preservation copies and/or enable digital access to copyrighted materials in their collections?
The document itself is 22 pages in length (inclusive of covers, credits etc), clearly written and with a couple of well worth while appendices on fair use today and the methodology employed in creating the Code in the first place. There's nothing on the face of it, though, that indicates that it is a Code addressed specifically to the United States. Words like "international", "Europe" and "foreign" could not be found on a word search of the Code's text. There's nothing wrong with the Code being US-based, of course, but this blogger has met, over the years, too many creative souls who assume that what is permitted -- or prohibited -- in one country is permitted or prohibited in all, and he would like Codes such as this to make it very plain for non-lawyers as to where their provisions are likely to be most helpful.

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