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Tuesday, 11th February 2014

Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities

Source: College Art Association

From Key Findings:

Visual artists and other visual arts professionals, a term used in this report to include (among others) art historians, educators, professors, editors or publishers, museum professionals, and gallerists, share a common problem in creating and circulating their work: confusion and misunderstanding of the nature of copyright law and the availability of fair use—the limited right to reuse copyrighted material without permission or payment.
• Fair use is flexible, available, and even core to the missions of many visual arts activities.
• Members of the visual arts communities typically overestimate the risk of employing fair use, which leads them to avoid it, even in circumstances where the law permits and so doing would not harm personal relationships necessary for their work.
• They pay a high price for copyright confusion and misunderstanding. Their work is constrained and censored, most powerfully by themselves, because of that confusion and the resulting fear and anxiety.
• The highest cost is scholarship left undone, knowledge not preserved for the next generation, creative use of digital opportunities truncated—the “missing future.”

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 2.9 MB)


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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