Q: Why is Fair Use critical to documentary films?
A: According to experts at Stanford Law School: “Fair Use is critical to documentary film because that medium explores and discusses important social, cultural and historical issues. It is often impossible to discuss these issues effectively without reference to the historical material that illustrates, depicts and documents them. A tremendous amount of that material is under copyright. Accordingly, copyright can present a very significant barrier to the creation of many documentary films.While documentary filmmakers may be able to solve this problem by obtaining permission to use copyrighted material from the copyright owner, this solution is imperfect and often ineffective. Furthermore, it can be expensive. A Fair Use doctrine allows filmmakers to avoid these problems and makes it possible for documentary filmmakers to take on subjects that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to discuss.”