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That's Not Fair (use)!

As another school year begins, librarians, teachers and professors across the country gear up to not only return to their classrooms, but their vlogs, podcasts, and social media accounts (KidTime StoryTime is a family favorite in our house). If you are an educator with a following beyond your students and their families, perhaps you have heard that media produced for "educational purposes" is not strictly subject to copyright laws. While this is generally true under the Fair Use Doctrine, it is not as "no pasa nada" as you may think.

The Fair Use Doctrine operates as less of a rule and more of a defense to accusations of copyright infringement. As such, the court will weigh several factors when deciding whether the doctrine applies. These include (but are not limited to):

  1. Whether your work comments upon or parodies the original (a feminist critique of a Disney princess movie is more likely to be considered fair use than a reimagination of the same movie in a modern setting)

  2. Whether your work is for nonprofit, educational purposes (selling tickets or otherwise making money from your version is less likely to be considered fair use)

  3. Whether your work interferes with the marketability of the original (making toys based on the characters of a popular children's book is less likely to be considered fair use if the author articulates a desire to make toys of her own in the near future)

If you use portions of copyrighted works on YouTube, on TikTok, or in a podcast, even if your purpose is ultimately educational in nature, you may wish to consult with an attorney. Sometimes the best path forward to license the copyright from its owner. We at Hannibal Legal would be happy to review your media give our analysis and suggestions. Feel free to contact us.

Posts are not legal advice nor representation.

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