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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Fair Use

Creative Commons, Fair Use and My Op-Ed

While this blog is meant to be a home for discussions of non-fiction for K-12, not anything I happen to write, since my Op-Ed did get a lot of attention, and some responders wrote here, I will take a moment to respond to their questions. Fair Use allows some use of text and even still images from films for critical comment — how much it allows and what qualifies as a critical comment is not as clear. The same passage when discussed in, say, a book review, a review essay in a magazine, a clearly academic text, and in a book aimed at bookstore or even library sales may need permission in one case and be an example of Fair Use in another. There is no preset word limit that guarantees that status — nor even a totally clear cut percentage of the total work. Fair Use does not apply at all in poetry or song lyrics — there may be exceptions in totally academic publications, but even if so that does not help in the vast majority of cases. Fair Use also does nothing for images, film, or audio. So while Fair Use can be helpful in particular instances, it in now way answers the problem of permissions in print or multimedia.
That problem of a partial answer applies as well to Creative Commons — there are texts, lyrics, songs, even images which fall with Creative Commons either because their creator/owners believe in that system or because they are in the Public Domain, so there is no need to request permission to use them. But when you write a work of non-fiction, you have no guarantee that the particular texts or images you need happen to be within the Creative Commons purview. You need the exact text or image that suits the narrative you are creating. So once againt a partial solution is no solution.

One person who emailed me said he has actually created a software system that allows micropayments for permissions called Savoirsoft — I know nothing more about this than that I got an email. But seems worth exploring.

Now back to our usual discussions.