Fair Use Week! Yes, it’s a thing, and yes, it’s important.



Happy Fair Use Week, Bryant!  I’m sure you all have this important occasion marked in your calendars and plan on celebrating the freedom (within reason) that fair use allows, but just in case there are people in the audience who are new to all this, I’ll explain briefly.

Fair Use Week is an annual event (this year spanning the week of Monday, February 22nd through Friday, February 26th) commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to promote the doctrine of fair use in America (or fair dealing if you’re Canadian).  Fair use and fair dealing are defined as “essential limitations and exceptions to copyright, allowing the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances. Fair use and fair dealing are flexible doctrines, allowing copyright to adapt to new technologies. These doctrines facilitate balance in copyright law, promoting further progress and accommodating freedom of speech and expression.” (source).

You run into examples of fair use doctrine nearly every single day of your life and you probably don’t even realize it most of the time.  In fact, most of that previous paragraph was an example of fair use because I was quoting a pre-existing work and incorporating it into a work of my own (you’ll notice that I also credited that source, am using that quote for an educational intent, am making no money off of this work I’m currently creating, and am not taking potential revenue away from the ARL / Fair Use Week folks in creating it… that’s important).

The rights and privileges allowed by copyright law to the owners and creators of a given work are obviously very important – any content creator should be allowed to gain the credit and any revenue rightly due to them – but the doctrine of fair use does allow for exceptions to copyright law in certain rarefied situations in ways that help innovate, create, and educate.

For more information on fair use in helpful and aesthetically pleasing infographic form, check out this description of the fundamentals of fair use doctrine, and this one that shows just how many times in a typical day that fair use doctrine assists and improves a typical college student’s life.  It’s eye-opening stuff.

For more information on Fair Use Week or just the doctrine itself, check out fairuseweek.org