The rising cost of clearing copyrighted material was a hot topic throughout 2005, with the debate hitting a fever pitch after Eyes on the Prize had trouble renegotiating expired archive licenses. Discussions produced an important milestone in November, when the ‘Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use’ was released by the Center for Social Media and endorsed by key groups in the industry, including the International Documentary Association, IFP and POV/American Documentary.
The statement makes clear what the industry considers reasonable conditions for fair use. The fair use doctrine allows copyrighted material to be used without a license, but is under used by the industry because gatekeepers and insurance companies often insist all rights be cleared, just to be safe. Since one condition for determining fair use is professional expectations, the statement creates a powerful guideline. For specifics, visit