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Collage and copyright



>  Nobody worried about collages for years.  Now all of a sudden, with some
wild
> lawsuits out there, we are forced to worry.  The safest rule, and the one
I
> teach and use here at the university, is: If you didn't make it yourself,
you
> can't use it without written permission.  Our legal counsel endourses
this.
>

I'm sure this is the safest stance to take short-term, and it doesn't
surprise me in the least that your legal counsel approves of it.  But I hope
you will not consider the adoption of safe guidelines as the final solution
to the problem.  This is new ground; law is being made.  Unless educational
institutions become engaged in lobbying and aggressively assert and defend
the tradition of "fair use," we will lose it completely.  The costs of that
will also be very high.  We risk having our culture become strictly
pay-per-view, as corporations with full-time lawyers intimidate the rest of
us into becoming passive (paying)consumers.

Copyright law is difficult and lawsuits are expensive.  Teachers may, very
understandably, decide that their responsibility is to protect their
students and conserve their own time for their more immediate concerns,
which are time-consuming enough.  But please look a little farther, perhaps
by visiting some of the web sites devoted to the issue.  Some time ago I put
together a collection of relevant links. (I claim no expert knowledge about
copyright and collage.)  The discussion list has never been very active, and
some of the news and links are probably out of date (I have other
responsibilities, too) but you may find it worth a look via the link below.
Alternatively, examine the Table of Contents for a 1996 special edition of
_Visual Resources_, which will give you an idea of how significant this
issue is for visual artists and historians:
http://oregon.uoregon.edu/~csundt/vrcfu.htm

http://www.mhagood.com/FairUseWeb.htm

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