AU’s Center for Social Media releases fair use guidelines for journalists

By Mike Janssen

The Center for Social Media at American University’s School of Communication has released a Set of Principles for Fair Use in Journalism, which provides guidelines for journalists using copyrighted material in their reporting, analysis and criticism.

“This guide identifies seven situations that represent the current consensus within the community of working journalists about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials,” it says. “It identifies some common situations encountered by journalists, principles for the application of fair use in those situations, and the limitations that journalists recommend to define the zone of greatest comfort for employment of this right — all consistent with the development of the fair use doctrine in the courts.”

The set of guidelines notes that the growth of digital journalism, social media and aggregation among journalism organizations has heightened awareness and uncertainty about the use of copyrighted material in journalism. U.S. copyright laws stop short of a strict definition of fair use, allowing flexibility in legal interpretation of the doctrine.

Pat Aufderheide, director of the CSM, is presenting the principles today at a TEDx event sponsored by the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. (Current is an editorially independent journalistic service of the School of Communication.)

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