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net.TUTOR: Multimedia and Academia

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4. Multimedia and Academia: Fair Use and Copyright

Just because something such as an image, sound, or video is posted online does not mean that you are automatically allowed to copy, use, or alter it in whatever way you want. In most cases, there is a copyright attached to items posted online, and copyright restricts how people other than the original creator or owner may use a work. So, when thinking about using multimedia, an important first step is to make sure that your multimedia use is legal and fair.

Fair use allows the use of copyrighted materials for limited “socially useful activities,” such as those that happen in the context of education. Not all educational use of materials can be considered fair use, though. Fair use applies regardless of whether your project is posted to a closed site like Carmen or to a public site like YouTube.


Movie Time


The video A Fair(y) Use Tale (10:14) by Professor Eric Fadden is made from Disney movie clips and provides a clever way of explaining (and demonstrating) fair use.




The four fair use factors are:

  1. the purpose and character of the use (is it for commercial or profit, or is it for nonprofit educational use?);
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work (is it published or unpublished, nonfiction or fiction?);
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole (is it a small excerpt or a large portion, and is the amount used the heart of the original work?);
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work (would use of the work impact the owner’s ability to market the original or profit?).


Movie Time


The OSU Libraries' Fair Use Guide provides a more in-depth discussion (including a brief video) of fair use.





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