A new study on “Fair Use” by the American University Center for Social Media — Recut Reframe and Recycle — has made some waves in the blogosphere.  Fair use is not a new issue for media creators, but the advent of widespread internet video has lead to manifold new claimed copyright infractions and, therefore, a much needed reexamination of the doctrine.

In short, as long as the derivative work is “transformative,”  the meaning and intent is changed, then its redistribution is legal under Fair Use, but that leaves a lot of gray.  (This article does a good job of outlining ways to fairly reuse online video.)

This is a commendable study, but I was taken aback by this particular sentiment offered by one of the study’s authors ###: “There’s an enormous amount of creativity in online video that may be unsuspected because people think of it as kind of a great big junk heap.”

A junk heap?  How can we spread the word of the insane creativity on the internet?

Despite the newness of internet protocol as a distribution mechanism for professionally produced video, work derived from other works has become a very serious and respectable genre in the space.  The phrase “enormous amount of creativity” might just be an understatement. 

Lets take a look at some of this very imaginative, thoughtful and important work distributed under the protection of fair use…

Take, for instance, Big Screen Version, one of many pieces by Aaron Valdez of Valdezatron Industries (Tilzy.TV Page) which draws on mainstream (copyrighted) media, often as commentary on the source media itself.

Or how about the Silent Debate series from the Harry Shearer channel on MyDamnChannel.  Is this funny or revealing… or both?  I’m not sure. 

Here Comes Another Bubble by The Richter Scales featured a photo whose copyright holder wasn’t happy about it being used without permission.  This particular case may or may not be a case of fair use, but its a brilliant video. 


This Barely Political video, featuring Obama Girl herself, is almost shockingly bland, but includes dozens of borrowed clips.  Had you even considered that their use might be contested?  Media borrowing is commonplace. 

Features of this very website, which promotes internet-tv shows with thumbnail images and preview clips, are reliant upon the principle of fair use. 

Still curious about fair use? This video by YouTuber BelYuan is sure to drive the point home…

Repurposed media is an important part of this evolving conversation.  We’re happy to see that academics have taken the time to examine and reaffirm the importance of fair use. 

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