National Writing Project

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

Date: April 23, 2009

Summary: This code, developed especially for the educational community, supports educators in making thoughtful decisions about interpreting the copyright doctrine of fair use to support media literacy education.

 


Center for Social Media's "Fair Use for Media Literacy Education"

As the Internet evolves, copyright issues are increasingly confusing—and often nettlesome. That's why The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education (PDF) was developed: to help educators make thoughtful decisions about interpreting the copyright doctrine of fair use to support media literacy education.

The fair use guidelines of the copyright doctrine are broadly designed to support a wide range of uses of creative works. The Code of Best Practices outlines these guidelines to give an understanding of the intention of fair use, and then provides principles of practice developed by consensus among media literacy educators to help guide the education community as a whole.

A Set of Guidelines Just for Educators

The authors point out that codes of this kind exist in other fields, including history, documentary filmmaking, and journalism, yet educators have not yet had their own set of shared guidelines from which to support their particular practices around media literacy teaching and learning.

Instead, misinformation and overly restrictive interpretations of fair use have hindered educational practices—particularly in 21st century learning, as new media literacy has become so critical across the disciplines.

The educators' Code of Best Practices was developed in response to studies and reports that describe the cost of this confusion (see The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy ).

This Code of Best Practices has been adopted by several educational organizations, including the National Council of Teachers of English and the Action Coalition of Media Education. The practices were developed by media literacy scholars and legal advisors from the Media Education Lab , The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property , and the Center for Social Media .

What Does This Mean for Educators?

The authors of the code write that "this is an area in which educators themselves should be leaders rather than followers." They encourage both teachers and students to use the principles described here to develop their own understanding of fair use and then use a process of analysis and reasoning to figure out fair use within their own pedagogical situations. The authors also encourage educators to share the knowledge and experience they develop in assessing fair use with colleagues and school leaders in order to support the fair use rights becoming part of institutional and instructional practices.

Download the Code of Best Practices

PDF Download "The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education"

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