Newhall, CA asked in Copyright for California

Q: Is it fair use for a professor to show an historically based movie to a campus club then explain its inaccuracies.

Would it be more likely or less likely to qualify as a fair use, if a History Club, that is part of a nonprofit educational institution, were to show historically based movies to club members and to have a history professor comment on and critique the accuracies and inaccuracies of the historical content of movies like Schindler's List and Dunkirk?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Robert Philip Cogan
Robert Philip Cogan
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Diego, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In a book review, the writer quotes brief passages of the book as a basis for making a comment. The writer does not reproduce the whole book and than make a comment.

Your question gives the impression that you want to show the whole film and then have a professor comment on and critique certain passages of the movie. Copying an entire work is rarely fair use. It might be different if you showed only the historical "blooper" and then made a comment. Even that might not be fair use. The answers are generally dependent upon the specific facts of the situation. An attorney would have to look at exactly what you are doing and exactly how much of the work you are using.

Also, being a nonprofit educational institution is not a defense to copyright infringement.

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