Fair Use Matters

Creativity is at the core of everyday life. It crosses many social dimensions. From culture to economy to language. Creative expression, however, usually requires building on the work of others. Remixing, bricolage, sampling, collage. Cultural production thrives better when people can write, re-write, appropriate, re-circulute, and remix. That is the reason why the fair use doctrine is so important. It gives creative people the right to use copyrighted works without permission in a way that adds new meaning. Fair use is crucial for learning and for producing knowledge. It empowers users of cultural and technological products to re-mix, modify, appropriate, and innovate.


This week is fair use/fair dealing week and a many organizations in north America have joined efforts to celebrate this doctrine and right. At the Berkman Center for Internet and Society we released three fair use educational resources: an audio podcast, an infographic, and a guide for teachers. During the past three weeks I worked on this resources together with the Cyberlaw Clinic and Radio Berkman. In the process I learned a lot about how charged the topic of fair use is, and realized that is very important that we understand it as a right, and not just as a defensive position. The fight for exercising the right of fair use will continue as creative users continue interacting with copyrighted material in a digital culture that allows multiple forms of remix and appropriation.


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