Copyright? Fair use? Creative Commons? This invaluable guide was just released October 25, 2018. You’ll want to save, bookmark, and keep for reference.
Introduction to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education
Preamble: No Easy Answers, but Guidance
Teachers who live and work in a world dominated by new media are asking many questions about literacy classroom practice:
- Can my students use copyrighted music, images, or video clips in their video projects?
- Can my students and I repurpose a copyrighted image as a meme?
- Can I show a movie via Netflix in school?
You might be hoping that a document about fair use will present you with answers to these kinds of difficult questions. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers—but there is guidance.
The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education (which was adopted by the NCTE Executive Committee in 2008) provides guidance but does not prescribe practice. As literacy educators, we each bear the responsibility to educate ourselves and our students about our relationship to existing media as learning tools. You can use this Code of Best Practices as a foundation to understanding the principles of fair use. Its continuing relevance is a testament to the importance of a shared understanding of these issues within a community of practice.
History of This Document
This Code of Best Practices developed from a grant awarded by the MacArthur Foundation in 2006. At the time there was fear about potential lawsuits in documentary filmmaking. When presented with challenges to copyright, judges look to creative communities for guidance on what is considered acceptable use of existing media, so the development of this Code was necessary to establish norms for a community of educators. Many stakeholders were included in its development with the overarching question: What is fair?
The document was reviewed by legal scholars and intellectual property attorneys. It represents a consensus of a knowledge/practice community, and co-signers included organizations that cross literacy fields. It presents normative practices in the field and focuses on the user’s rights. Its longevity is a strength if a copyright challenge comes forward.
Fair use is applied and understood differently in various contexts. The best practice model provides the guidance needed to navigate those contexts by offering a set of principles and clarifying common myths. Teachers continue to encounter such scenarios similar to those described above in the preamble; when deliberating about such situations, reading the Code can provide some guidance.
Read more at the National Council of Teachers of English
Originally adopted by the NCTE Executive Committee, November 2008, introduction added October 2018
By: National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), Student Television Network (STN), Media Commission of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME), and Visual Communication Division of the International Communication Association (ICA)