More on Fair Use

Posted on 30 November 2010

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European Documentary NetworkThe European Documentary Network , which has its annual meeting at the International Documentary Festival at Amsterdam, featured a workshop cosponsored by theFederation of European Film Directors (known by its French acronym, FERA) on the implications of the U.S. fair use movement for Europeans.

In Europe, each nation has its own copyright policies. They all include exceptions to copyright ownership, some more flexible and expansive than others.

FERAThe workshop began with a presentation by two Norwegian filmmakers, Morten Caae and Jan Dalchow. Both had discovered that, in the U.S. market, fair use was a useful tool for them (thanks in part to a recent presentation by U.S. documentarian David van Taylor at Nordisk). They had also discovered that the Norwegian “right of quotation,” like the right of quotation in many European countries, was quite amenable to interpretation. They noted that without a standard interpretation—and worse, standard and flexible exemptions throughout Europe—they were often in the position that U.S. filmmakers were before they created the Documentary Filmmakers’ Code of Best Practices in Fair Use. Their work was often higher-priced, slower to market, and distorted because of licensing issues.

Dutch legal scholar and expert on European law Bernt Hugenholtz then explained to the group that many European nations did have exemptions that should be used to the maximum. As well, the Berne convention encourages nations to adopt exemptions that many nations have yet to adopt—but could, with some encouragement from creators and users.

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