Fair Use Question of the Month: Screening a DVD to a Focus Group
In this Fair Use Question of the Month, a woman embarking on a scholarly research project in communication writes in to ask whether or not screening an episode of a popular television show to a focus group is covered under Fair Use.
Dear Center for Social Media,
I am starting a project researching how representations of teen pregnancy in popular media have affected perceptions of adolescent sexuality. As part of my research, I would like to screen episodes of the television show “16 and Pregnant” to a focus group of teenagers and their parents in order to garner responses about what they perceive to be the show’s effects on their perceptions of teen sexuality. The copy of the episode I plan to screen was purchased as part of a DVD collection of the series. Does this screening of a copyrighted episode purchased for private viewing qualify as fair use?
The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in Scholarly Research in Communication should definitely help address your concerns, and help you decide how much material is okay to screen without permission or payment, and with what justification. The section on “Using Copyrighted Material to Stimulate Response, Discussion, and Other Reactions During Research” should be particularly helpful to you in determining whether or not you can defend your screenings of “16 and Pregnant” as Fair Use. Do keep in mind, that as always with fair use, the amount of material used should only be as much as necessary in order to stimulate response and discussion.
Good luck on your project!
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