The concept of ‘Fair Use’ as a European in the US
Through our more digitized life as scholars and individuals, it is hard not to at least in passing reflect on how you utilize images. It can be with hesitation about if you are using the images correctly and respectfully, or just choosing not to use them to be extra cautious. In any case, policy on ‘fair use’ is of vital importance as a guide and tool for respectful and educational usages of visual and written material we publish and utilize within our projects. Coming from a European perspective, with the new legislation of ‘Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market’ looming over the European Union, the debates regarding copyright and fair use is at the moment tense topics in Europe. The legislation has furthered the confusion and uncertainty regarding copyright, making most individuals and scholars risk averse to an almost extreme. College Art Association (2015) in their Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in the Visual Arts underscores a current hesitation among academics and scholars, whilst still pointing out that fair use is flexible in its usage. In the EU however, the idea of ‘fair use’ doesn’t apply and the union has been quite forceful against any stipulations that resembles the US ‘fair use’ policy. Countries such as Sweden do have some national laws, that draw some similarities with ‘Fair use’ precept, though it rather focuses on shorter citations of texts and lyrics for academic purposes and does not entail any visual elements. Patricia Aufderheide, et al. (2014) in their Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report underscores that even though the US has its fair use doctrine, it also recognizes other international and national doctrines; policies that sometimes overrule the ‘Fair use’ one (p. 25). After reading the assigned texts for this week regarding the ‘Fair use’ doctrine, it has naturally made me search for more information regarding global projects, and what this would mean for me; only having published within the European realm, I am always hesitant about using any visual elements. My risk averse side views the ‘Fair use’ doctrine with much interest, as it does open doors to visual elements and projects that I haven’t had the chance to explore before. But therefore the ‘Fair use’ doctrine is hard for me to grasp, as it is almost an oppositional view of usage than what I have been taught through my studies so far. As As Patricia Aufderheide, et al. (2014) points out, a majority of scholars and museums are still risk averse to an extent that they don’t have to, but also underscores the legal ramifications caused between the clashes of EU legislation and the US fair use doctrine. I know that I will have difficulties no being risk averse, coming from a research culture that does not offer anything similar.
Utilizing a platform such as Omeka for digital projects can certainly have its benefits. Since I have my web hosting through the website builder Wix.com, my opportunities to explore Omeka is limited, as Wix doesn’t enable plugins from other developers that they’re not affiliated with. Using Wix offers an easy and cohesive way of creating a multipurpose website and having one unified customer support with one provider; however, if you like me may want or need to explore other platforms to tie in with your own work, it can feel limiting and cause issues. Paige Morgan notes in her blogpost How to get your digital humanities project off the ground (2014) about choosing which platforms to utilize for your own projects can be a journey of itself before your project has even started. It is about scouting and being clear minded in what you actually need for your project. It is not only a question of which platform suits best, but also what feels best. Being new to the ideas of digital humanities at large, I am excited about the new possible trajectories my projects can go in, but also experience a certain amount of confusion and uncertainty that almost always appear together with excitement when learning something new. By attempting to organize ideas and how I could potentially use Omeka, Sheila Brennan’s (2017) uploaded presentation regarding Omeka and potential projects were a great help. I would argue that whilst doing projects that require collaboration, I can see great potential for Omeka, as an effective organizational tool, but I have a harder time thinking of ways to utilize Omeka for individual projects. This is where Morgan’s (2014) advice on how to find your way of getting your project off the ground is helpful, to try several platforms, be mindful about what you need and also to be realistic in what you actually can accomplish. I am excited to continue learning and hoping that new discoveries will help me find useful tools to continue my own projects.