November 8, 2007
"Best Practices in Fair Use" from The Society for Cinema and Media Studies

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies has just posted a Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use in Teaching for Film & Media Educators. This statement can be accessed here.

C3 Consulting Researcher Jason Mittell, a member of the SCMS sub-committee on fair use responsible for this document, was one of its key authors.

This document establishes clear guidelines, including limitations and clarifications, for educators covering the areas of classroom screenings, broadcast recordings, derivative works, online distance education, and public domain. Of particular interest is Appendix A, which displays a chart of "Responsibilities for Displaying or Performing Film and Media in On-Line Instruction" covering the institution, the faculty, and information technology units.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, such as in my March 30, 2007, piece for the C3 Weekly Update entitled "Pedagogy of Fair Use," the use of media in the classroom involves important issues for faculty and students (many of whom themselves produce media) as well as for relations between media producers and media educators. For more, see my post from last December which questioned, "What is a media educator?" This was in response to a round of discussion started by Mittell here on this blog about fair use issues surrounding media content.

The SCMS document provides clarification for some vexing issues regarding laws, rights, and responsibilities when using media in an educational setting. While definitions of things like "reasonable and limited portions" remain, necessarily, open to some interpretation, this document will give educators (and students) an unambiguous set of practices that can inform their use of media in the classroom. Most importantly, these practices create a foundation from which to advance our critical thinking about the concept of fair use and, thus, the social, legal, and ideological relationships among scholars, creators, the industry, and the government.