Empowering Media That Matters

The Center for
Media & Social Impact

The Center for Media & Social Impact is an innovation lab and research center that studies, designs and showcases media for social impact.

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Media That Matters

Fair Use Question of the Month: Can I Show Protesters Singing Copyrighted Music?

Glenn HalogDear CMSI,

I am a radio reporter for my local news station. Yesterday I covered a rally where I was interviewing protesters, and behind them some people were chanting “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” My editor made me cut those interviews; she said that you could hear the song in the background, and it’s a John Lennon song and we didn’t have the rights to it. And it was great tape! 


Better Distribution by Giving It Away?

Piracy CrusadeA scholar on piracy gave his book away, and boosted his sales.

The great “intellectual piracy” debate is generally conducted without data, but a recent example provides an intriguing case study. Communication scholar Aram Sinnreich writes about piracy and copyright. His latest book, The Piracy Crusade, argues that the music business’ fight against downloaders has been bad for business and for creative expression.

And he practiced what he preached. He made chapters of the book available for comment as he was writing it, and got his publisher, University of Massachusetts Press, to make it available under a Creative Commons license.


Will spectrum auctions disappear public TV?

In an important op-ed in public TV’s industry bible, Current, longtime public TV advocate (and spectrum guru) John Schwartz highlights a grim reality: the FCC’s recent Report and Order on spectrum auctions could jeopardize the future of public TV.

The problem: Public TV stations, like all other TV stations, can put their spectrum up for auction, and do what they like with the proceeds.


When Subjects Attack Filmmakers, Is Freedom of Expression at Risk?

When filmmakers take on tough subjects, do they need to take extra precautions? Crude, Bananas!, Venus and Serena, Central Park 5 all confronted legal challenges. Other important films, such as Gasland and Hot Coffee, have faced smear campaigns.