Documentary filmmakers have created, through their professional associations, a clear, easy to understand statement of fair and reasonable approaches to fair use. Fair Use is the right, in some circumstances, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it. It is a crucial feature of copyright law. In fact, it is what keeps copyright from being censorship. You can invoke fair use when the value to the public of what you are saying outweighs the cost to the private owner of the copyright.
This Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use makes clear what documentary filmmakers currently regard as reasonable application of the copyright Fair Use doctrine. Fair use expresses the core value of free expression within copyright law. The statement clarifies this crucial legal doctrine, to help filmmakers use it with confidence. Fair use is shaped, in part, by the practice of the professional communities that employ it. The statement is informed both by experience and ethical principles. It also draws on analogy: documentary filmmakers should have the same kind of access to copyrighted materials that is enjoyed by cultural and historical critics who work in print media and by news broadcasters.
Thanks for posting about this. As someone who just finished a long documentary series that was seriously affected by the need to hew to a very conservative interpretation of Fair Use, I am personally very interested in the world of audio documentarians adopting some similar document. The challenge in our current environment is that we are now dealing with a mixture of non-profit and for-profit broadcasting entities that distribute our work, and there appears to be a wide variety of policies as to what constitutes Fair Use of copyrighted material in a documentary (or, for that matter, feature story) setting. Perhaps this is something that AIR could spearhead. I could be as simple as proposing to the biggest broadcasting/podcasting networks that they adopt the guidelines that the video documentarians have drafted. Not sure how that should be done, since these various networks are not part of any kind of formal association. But boy, it sure would be helpful to have something resembling clear and consistent guidelines that we could follow.