Fair Use or Foul Play? Copyright Rules in the Digital Age – at the Norman Rockwell Museum

Lucy Prashker and Sarah Kohrs present “Fair Use or Foul Play? Copyright Rules in the Digital Age” at the Norman Rockwell Museum 9/18/2014

Wondering what use you can make of someone else’s creative content? Thinking of sharing a video created by another on social media? Or “sampling” some hit music into your new hip-hop beat?  The rules are less static than you might assume, and they continue to evolve.

On Sept. 18 from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Cain Hibbard & Myers attorney Sarah Kohrs and Managing Partner Lucy Prashker presented an engaging and interactive talk, “Fair Use or Foul Play? Copyright Rules in the Digital Age.” A talk that was of particular interest to all stakeholders in the Creative Economy, Kohrs and Prashker answered the easy questions and considered the hard ones, with examples drawn from real life cases involving well known, and not so well known, works of art.   They identified the legal guideposts, debunked common myths, and explored evolving views about fair use, examining the different perspectives of artists, academics and jurists.

“Whether we recognize it or not, we all draw on our own sense of ‘fair use’ every day in making decisions about what quote to include in our writing, what image to include on our website, and what sounds to include in an audio remix,” said Prashker. “Copyright law – and in particular fair use — is relevant not just to artists and academics, but to people in business and, in fact, to just about anyone who participates in general public discourse.”

Sometimes even the most innocent of users can be caught off-guard.  “In one case, a mother posted on YouTube a  video of her toddler dancing to a song by the pop star Prince.  This raised the hackles of the song’s record label and, to the surprise of many, litigation ensued,” said Kohrs. “Questions of fair use arise virtually everywhere – from social media to yoga, in commercial operations and in charitable endeavors, from the forests of Jamaica to the Hollywood strip.”

This was the fourth of five community educational events Cain Hibbard & Myers has hosted as part of its 50th anniversary year.   It was free to the public, with over 70 members of the community in attendance.