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Determining Fair Use

Learning using media as a tool is unavoidable in this age of prevalent technology. Use of the Internet (and other digital communication media) has become integral to our lives. Learning now takes place in an environment in which everything is copyrighted. Teachers and students need to be able to use and analyze media in order to maintain a high quality of learning and self-expression.

There are four ways to use copyrighted materials

  1. Illustration—to illustrate our work
  2. Storytelling—to help develop a story, compose a script, and make an audio recording
  3. Critical analysis—to select a media message, interpret the message, and present it with text and images
  4. Remix—to take bits of our media and technology culture and form our own to create new meaning.

Watch a really good video on Fair Use For Media Literacy Education!

Key Questions

Fair use is a reasoning process that each educator has to go through on each issue or project he or she works on. To decide whether it's okay for you and your students to use an original work, ask the critical questions:

Is the new work transformative?
Does the new work merely copy the original or does it offer something new for a different purpose?
Does it send a different message and carry a different meaning from the original?

Renee Hobbs, Ed.D., professor, School of Communications and Theater, Temple University and one of the nation's leading authorities on media literacy, recommends that you "exercise your fair-use muscles" by documenting and keeping a record of your process, using this analysis sheet:

Download Tool for reasoning Fair Use (pdf)

Download Tool for reasoning Fair Use_SHORT (pdf)