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Copyright Guide: Media

Best Practices

Located at the American Unviersity in Washington D.C., the Center for Media & Social Impact discusses Fair Use and the creative process for various Media.

FairUse and issues with Media can be among the most challenging.  Ubiquitious and now with the Internet, locating and using various media to enhance classroom content is easier than ever to do.  CSMI offers discussions and a code of best practices on what constitutes Fair Use in our media-rich age.

Click here for:

CMSi Fair Use

CMSi Code of Best Practices


Additional sites that offer a "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media":

Locate additional information at The Center for Social Media which has developed several Codes of Best Practices to aid educators in making the best decisions regarding fair use:

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication
The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video
Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use

Guidelines for Media Use in the Classroom

In 1998, the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) issued a Final Report of its work. Although never adopted by the Association of Research Libraries, the CONFU Multimedia Guidelines do provide guidance concerning the use of small portions of multimedia works without obtaining copyright permissions. An overview:

Educator Use:
Educators may use portions of copyrighted materials for curriculum-based multimedia projects and as teaching tools in support of curriculum-based instructional activities.

  • Multimedia projects are to be used for face-to-face teaching.
  • The multimedia projects are to be assigned to students for directed self-study.
  • The multimedia projects can be used for remote, real time instruction on a secure network. Projects can be used for after-class review or directed self-study. Please note that technology is needed to limit access to the network and multimedia project and to prevent copying.
  • The multimedia project can be used by the educator for peer conferences.
  • The multimedia project can be used by the educator for a professional portfolio.

Permission Is Required Under These Conditions

  • For commercial reproduction & distribution.
  • For use on a network that entails non-student viewing or no password protection. 

 Attribution and Acknowledgment: 

  • Completely credit your sources. Attributions for each work used are required. Include typical bibliographic information: author, title, publisher, place and date of publication.
  • Include the 4 copyright elements:
    a. Include copyright notice, i.e. “Notice: This material is subject to the copyright law of the United States.”
    b. Include the copyright symbol, ©.
    c. Include the year of first publication.
    d. Include the name of the copyright holder.
  • Complete attributions for images must appear on screen with the image(s) used unless this would interfere with an exam.
  • The opening screen of the multimedia project is to state that copyrighted materials are being used under fair use and are being used according to the Multimedia Fair Use Guidelines.
  • Permission is required for using copyrighted works in multimedia projects if the multimedia project is to be distributed beyond the classroom.
  • Alterations are allowed only if those alterations are part of the instructional objectives.
  • Fair use and the Multimedia Guidelines do not preempt or supersede licenses and contractual obligations when and where they are required.

Suggested Limits:




Up to 10% or three minutes, whichever is less


Up to 10% or thirty seconds, whichever is less

Music, Lyrics, & Music Video

Up to 10% or thirty seconds, whichever is less. No alterations allowed.


Up to 10% or 1,000 words, whichever is less


Up to 250 words or entire poem if work is less than 250 words


Up to five complete images from one artist. Not more than 10% or fifteen images, whichever is less, from a single collected work