Content Curation and Fair Use (this is law we need to know about!)

Andrew WilsonAbout

Long time marketer and infopreneur. I have been making a living online since 2005 and helping others do the same since almost as long.

I trained as an economist with particular interest in the transition economies of the FSU.

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content curation tools

content curation tools (Photo credit: Ruukel)

Fair Use is the concept at the heart of enabling Content Curation. As you by now know, content curation is a process of taking existing content and aggregating, and hopefully adding value to that content, for the benefit of readers on our web pages. Of course to simply take content written by others is usually going to infringe upon their copyrights.

There has to be a loophole to enable we content curators to access and re-use other people’s work or we would find ourselves on the end of a never ending series of law suits. That does not happen (at least not too often) so let’s have a look at this legal loophole called the Fair Use Doctrine.

Firstly we should note that this is not a set of rules cast in stone, it is a set of guidelines with grey edges, not black and white – because of this it is important that we know enough about the doctrine of fair use to enable us to make our own choices. This is not a good area to choose to follow somebody else’s advice.

In the interests of ease of reading and entertainment I found the free resource, a comic book, of all things on the subject of fair use.

Free Comic eBook on Fair Use – School Library Monthly Blog

Free Comic eBook on Fair Use. Check out this awesome free download for Kindle … and remember, if you don’t have a Kindle device, you can still download it to the Kindle apps on a smartphone or tablet or to Kindle software

For a more dry and maybe authoritative look at the topic it is worth downloading and reading the latest version of the ‘Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries’ published by the Association of Research Libraries. This only came out in January 2012 so is plenty topical. This is a free download. It is worth noting that it is is aimed at academic librarians but the issues that we face are much the same and these people have spent a lot of time in researching and formulating the guidelines they share. Just as a taster, here are a few words that outline their understanding of the realm and context of fair use it makes sense and is worth keeping close when planning one’s curation activities:

Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances, especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant. It is a general right that applies even—and especially—in situations where the law provides no specific statutory authorization for the use in question. Consequently, the fair use doctrine is described only generally in the law, and it is not tailored to the mission of any particular community. Ultimately, determining whether any use is likely to be considered “fair” requires a thoughtful evaluation of the facts, the law, and the norms of the relevant community.

Association of Research Libraries: Code of Practice. Introduction

Above all, as marketers and bloggers we should work hard to avoid the idea that content curation is a way to avoid paying for content and is a way of short-cutting the content creation process. Done well curation is hugely useful and will be rewarded by readers and search engines but it takes time and effort to do well.

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