Julie Ahrens, the Director of Copyright and Fair Use and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School, will discuss the importance of fair use in the U.S. copyright system and explain the role the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution plays in the fair use analysis.
Julie runs the Documentary Film Program and advises filmmakers who use unlicensed clips in their films to help them obtain the insurance coverage necessary to distribute their films. Fair use is critical to documentary film because it is a medium that explores and discusses important social, cultural and historical issues. It is often impossible to discuss these issues effectively without reference to historical material that illustrates, depicts and documents them. A tremendous amount of that historical material is under copyright. Accordingly, copyright can present a very significant barrier to the creation of many documentary films. A robust and effective fair use doctrine allows filmmakers to overcome these barriers and makes it possible for documentary filmmakers to take on subjects that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to discuss.
Using examples from her work on documentary films, Julie will explain how U.S. courts apply fair use and why the doctrine is essential for free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. She will discuss the role her organization at Stanford plays in ensuring that fair use is an effective and reliable tool for filmmakers and other creators.