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Fair Use

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts

View CAA’s webinar series on fair use in the visual arts.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts

Since 2012, the College Art Association has been working to produce the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. The project has been led by Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, professors of communication studies and law, respectively, at American University and guided by CAA's Task Force on Fair Use. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional funding from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, CAA completed its initial phase in January 2014 with the publication of Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report. The final Code of Best Practices was published on February 9, 2015. 

AAMD [Association of Art Museum Directors] believes the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts is an excellent contribution to the field and a great point of departure for best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials....AAMD believes this document has the potential to be a valuable aid to all professionals in the visual arts and will recommend it to our membership, again with our profound thanks for the service to the field.
-AAMD

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts

This Code of Best Practices provides visual-arts professionals with a set of principles addressing best practices in the fair use of copyrighted materials. It describes how fair use can be invoked and implemented when using copyrighted materials in scholarship, teaching, museums, archives, and in the creation of art.
The Code addresses the following five questions:

  • Analytic Writing: When may scholars and other writers about art invoke fair use to quote, excerpt, or reproduce copyrighted works?
  • Teaching about Art: When may teachers invoke fair use in using copyrighted works to support formal instruction in a range of settings, including online and distance teaching?
  • Making Art: Under what circumstances may artists invoke fair use to incorporate copyrighted material into new artworks in any medium?
  • Museum Uses: When may museums and their staffs invoke fair use in using copyrighted works—including images and text as well as time-based and born-digital material—when organizing exhibitions, developing educational materials (within the museum and online), publishing catalogues, and other related activities?
  • Online Access to Archival and Special Collections: When may such institutions and their staffs invoke fair use to create digital preservation copies and/or enable digital access to copyrighted materials in their collections?

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about how the Code of Best Practices can be used to evaluate your use of copyrighted materials? Not sure if your use of copyrighted materials falls under the fair use doctrine? Check here for frequently asked questions.

You be the Judge!

Deciding whether or not fair use can be invoked is frequently a matter of judgment. The Code of Best Practices provides ways to evaluate the applicability of fair use in a variety of situations. This section presents several hypothetical scenarios and lets you follow the reasoning behind the decision.

Infographics

Infographics are a helpful tool for understanding the basics of fair use, and especially for explaining it to others. This section includes six infographics that focus on different aspects of fair use.

Powerpoint

Now that CAA’s Code of Best Practices exists, it is important to share it widely with colleagues and students in the field. Here is a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation that you can use to present the Code at faculty meetings and conferences, with museum colleagues, or in class with students.

Endorsements

American Library Association
Art Libraries Society of North America
Association of Art Museum Curators
Association of College and Research Libraries
Association of Research Libraries
Society of Architectural Historians
Visual Resources Association

Statements of Support

American Alliance of Museums
Association of Art Museum Directors

Still have questions? Please email us at nyoffice@collegeart.org.

CAA’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

YouTube Playlist for CAA Fair Use in the Visual Arts.

Articles on CAA's Fair Use

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