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Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Guide

Fair Use Index

Codes of Best Practice for Fair Use


The following list contains codes of best practices for fair use in a series sponsored by the Center for Social Media. The reason for these best practice codes is because courts deciding fair use cases specifically looks to the best practices of the field. In the past, it has mostly been the content owners who have defined the practices. The idea of this series of codes is to create best practices multiple fields and disciplines that are based upon the existing law, that can be found and followed fairly easily, and that create a level playing field between content owners and content users. The people involved in this series are absolutely first-rate, and are led by distinguished intellectual property experts Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide.

Best practice codes in this series include:

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education was the third one to be released. However, the interdisciplinary nature of this code, and the large number of organizations that are signatories or have endorsed it, make this the most significant guides. Signatories include:

  • Action Coalition for Media Education
  • Media Education Foundation
  • National Association for Media Literacy Education
  • National Council of Teachers of English
  • Visual Communication Studies Division of the International Communication Association

The most significant signatory is the National Council of Teachers of English. This means that the code is going to be taught by a lot of people at the secondary and and university level. Also, the Association of College & Research Libraries (while not a signatory) has endorsed the guidelines.

While not part of this series, the Society of American Archivists released Orphen Works: Statement of Best Practices in 2009. Peter Jaszi, Peter Hirtle, and others who took part in the Center for Social Media project were involved with this work.

The Center for Social Media at American University has extensive teaching materials and most of the best practices on its website. The site includes slides, lecture notes, guidelines for in-class discussions, exercises, assignments, and grading rubrics dealing with copyright and fair use. There are a number of other open-access teaching materials and lesson plans, videos, and other resources not produced by the Center but housed at (or linked from) their website. The best addresses are and

Another good teaching resource is Fair Use Language for Course Syllabi from the University Film and Video Association. This website is found at

It is important to remember that not all best practice guides are created equal. There are many other guides that I haven’t mentioned. However, the series being put out now with Peter Jaszi is very important, and will help to restate and redefine the law.

Copyright Permission and Fair Use


Copyright Clearance Center

Copyright & Fair Use (Stanford University Libraries)

Copyright Law, Libraries, and Universities (Kenneth D. Crews, J.D., Ph.D. -- Presentation to Association of Research Libraries, October 1992)

Information on Obtaining Copyright Permissions

Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (Circular 21)

Software Use and the Law: A Guide for Individuals, Educational Institutions, User Groups, and Corporations (Software Publishers Association)

When works pass into the public domain (Lolly Gasaway)

Computers and Academic Freedom Archive (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Copyright and Digital Distance Education Report (U. S. Copyright Office, 1999)

The Copyright Website (P.J. Benedict O'Mahoney, copyright lawyer) features a Fair Use Test, News, and Basics of Copyright Law.

Questions and Answers on Copyright for the Campus Community
(National Association of College Stores & Association of American Publishers)

Stanford University Libraries Copyright and Fair Use

Using Software: A Guide to the Ethical and Legal Use of Software for Members of the Academic Community (EDUCOM)

Fair Use Links



Anthony Paganelli's picture
Anthony Paganelli
Anthony Paganelli
Library Instructor
(270) 745-6079
(270) 745-6079