Fair Use Question of the Month: Images for Online and Print Journal

Dear CMSI,

A piece that I wrote for class will be featured in a local art journal, print and online. However, I must submit a final edit within a short deadline. I am nervous to include illustrative images supporting my analysis of a twentieth century artist in relation to the political climate of the time. I fear I don’t have enough time or resources to obtain permissions for all the images.

Colin B.

Dear Colin,

Congratulations! And good news—you may have good reason to employ fair use, which means you wouldn’t have to ask permission. To help you with your fair use reasoning, look at the Code of Best Practices in the Visual Arts, to understand what other peers do in a similar situation. Your case sounds like situations in Principle One: Analytic Writing, so we encourage you to read this principle first.

You will see in that section a description of the range of activities to which fair use might apply, the logic of fair use in those situations, and most importantly, the limits on fair use. Look at how you are employing the illustrations, and whether your uses are within the limitations. For instance, is the connection between the image and your argument clear in the text?

If you are confident that your uses are within the terms of the Code, share your reasoning with peers and your publisher with confidence. Several publishers, including the College Art Association itself and Yale University Press, have already changed their permissions-only practice to one that encourages employing fair use.