Center for Social Media (2010)
|Center for Social Media (2010)|
|Title:||Clipping Our Own Wings, Copyright and Creativity in Communication Research|
|Author(s):||Ad Hoc Committee on Fair Use and Academic Freedom, International Communication Association|
|Citation:||Center for Social Media. (2010). Clipping Our Own Wings: Copyright and Creativity in Communication Research. American University.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||A survey of 56 questions was done by 387 participants, all members of the International Communications Assiciation (ICA).|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Communication scholars need access to copyrighted material, need to make unlicensed uses of them in order to do their research, and often—especially within the United States—have the legal right to do so. But all too often they find themselves thwarted.
A survey of communication scholars’ practices, conducted by the Ad Hoc Committee on Fair Use and Academic Freedom in the International Communication Association (ICA), reveals that copyright ignorance and misunderstanding hamper distribution of finished work, derail work in progress, and most seriously, lead communication researchers simply to avoid certain kinds of research altogether. Nearly half the respondents express a lack of confidence about their copyright knowledge in relation to their research. Nearly a third avoided research subjects or questions and a full fifth abandoned research already under way because of copyright concerns. In addition, many ICA members have faced resistance from publishers, editors, and university administrators when seeking to include copyrighted works in their research. Scholars are sometimes forced to seek copyright holders’ permission to discuss or criticize copyrighted works. Such permission seeking puts copyright holders in a position to exercise veto power over the publication of research, especially research that deals with contemporary or popular media.
These results demonstrate that scholars in communication frequently encounter confusion, fear, and frustration around the unlicensed use of copyrighted material. These problems, driven largely by misinformation and gatekeeper conservatism, inhibit researchers’ ability both to conduct rigorous analyses and to develop creative methodologies for the digital age.
Communication scholars can benefit by developing best practices standards for the most ample and flexible copyright exemption permitting unlicensed use of copyrighted materials: fair use. While nonU.S. members will not be able to apply this doctrine directly to work done outside the United States, having this interpretation established for U.S. scholars will expand opportunities within a large area of communication research, encourage international scholars to explore their own nations’ copyright exemptions, and provide an important benchmark for non-U.S. scholars looking for models as copyright reform proceeds.
Main Results of the Study
- 387 communications researchers responded to this survey, primarily from the US and Canada.
- The survey indicated heavy reliance on usage of and access to copyrighted works for analyising and criticising: 18 percent for all or nearly all of research; 36 percent for some; 32 percent for a small portion; and 14 percent for none.
- Other uses require regular reproduction of works in communication research, such as showing film clips in experiments. 16 percent of respondents reported using an entire copyrighted work for purposes other than analysis or critique, and they identified uses of copyrighted material as particularly important for research.
- The majority of research rated their knowledge of copyright as 'good' or better but also actively seek guidance: 15 percent always seek guidance on use of copyrighted material; 24 percent usually; and 37 percent at least occasionally. Despite these reports, researchers also felt confused about copyright intricacies and fearful use of certain materials could impede work.
- Thus 31 percent have abandoned a project entirely due to infringement concerns. Over half of respondents would 'somewhat likely, very likely, or definitely' undertake a different course of research if copyright were not a concern.
- Despite formalities for copyrighted material, many of the uses of copyrighted material that researchers avoided would have been considered as possible fair use, at least under U.S. law.
- Non-U.S. scholars reported similarly about copyright inhibiting research; however, they were less confident about knowledge of copyright exceptions, were more likely to have received warnings from home institutions about using copyrighted materials, and were more likely to be pursuing a different course of research were it not for copyright infringement concerns.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The authors suggest, based on the range of problems evidenced in this report, that the ICA create a code of best practices in fair use. While non-U.S. members will not be able to directly apply this doctrine to work done within the bounds of other countries, having this interpretation established for U.S. scholars will provide an important benchmark for non-U.S. scholars looking for models as copyright reform proceeds. It may also encourage ICA members in different countries to explore the opportunities now available to them under their country’s copyright exemptions, to educate themselves about them and to make use of them.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Scholars|
|Period of material under study:||2010|