Copyright Law and Fair Use for Journalists

Course Overview

Copyright Law and Fair Use for Journalists
Self-Directed Course
Time Estimate:
3 to 4 hours

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

This course is intended to help online content publishers, social media participants and website publishers understand the fair use doctrine and copyright law.

This course specifically address both how the doctrine of fair use lets people legally publish content created by others and how copyright protects creators of content from the illegal use and reproduction of their content. In doing so, this course helps journalists understand where these concepts intersect and where they might collide.

Fair use is a complex area of copyright law. Publishers have a love-hate relationship with fair use. On one hand, it lets them legally repurpose existing copyrighted material. On the other hand, publishers want to prevent others from stealing their own content and republishing it illegally.

It is wise to exercise caution when using work created by someone else; this shows an awareness of the content creator's rights. However, an underlying principle of fair use is to promote and build upon the existing work of others to further develop innovative ideas. The Creative Commons movement has introduced additional complexities.

Publishers and those in the legal community vary widely in their opinions of fair use. Their perspectives are explored in a thoughtful and productive way throughout this course.

This course addresses legal issues in a practical way. It explains how fair use applies in the digital space, as there is a lack of guidance offered by existing case law.

What Will I Learn:
  • What the fair use doctrine is and how it dovetails with copyright law
  • How you can legally publish content created by others under the doctrine of fair use
  • How to avoid pitfalls through an understanding of how copyright law protects content
  • How fair use and copyright law apply to content published online and in social media
Who should take this course:

Online, print and broadcast publishers, editors and content creators, including bloggers, educators, anyone who posts content to social media sites

Course Instructors:

Ellyn Angelotti Kamke

Since joining The Poynter Institute in 2007, Ellyn Angelotti Kamke has helped Poynter explore the journalistic values and the legal challenges related to new technologies, especially social media. She also has helped create and develop Poynter’s use of such interactive teaching tools as online chats and podcasts. You can follow her on Twitter at @ellynkamke.

Her current work is focused on the intersection of journalism, technology and the law. She recently graduated from law school at Stetson University College of Law, where she received the Judge Raphael Steinhardt award for character, leadership and service to the community.

Catherine Cameron

Catherine Cameron is a professor at Stetson College of Law in Tampa, Florida. She teaches and researches in the areas of legal writing and media law. She has written several articles on media law and legal writing topics and has given presentations at national conferences on these topics as well. She has been a faculty advisor for the First Amendment Moot Court team and the ADR Board Negotiation team.