Fair Use Assignments for Art, Architecture and Design History Classes

  1. In writing assignments, ask students to include photo credit lines for all images included in their papers. In addition to the artist’s name, title, medium, and size, have students include the source for the image and—for works still protected by copyright—justify their fair use using the CMSI Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. Here are sample instructions:
    • On your illustration page: The illustration(s) will be photo(s) of the artwork(s) discussed in your paper. Indicate the title and date of the artwork, artist (if known) and his/her date of birth (and death if applicable), medium and dimensions of the work, and name of the museum or collection that owns the work (or the online source of the image). On the bottom line, indicate in one sentence whether or not you are relying on fair use in illustrating the work and your reasoning for doing so (citing the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts).

  2. Have students visit a local museum and select a work of art that incorporates copyrighted material and write a one-paragraph justification of its use using the CAA Code. (Examples of art could include Pop art paintings, assemblage, collage, or political satire.)

  3. Show the students a work of art that incorporates the work of others; choose one that has not been the subject of litigation, such as something by Keith Haring or Elaine Sturtevant. Have them develop a fair use rationale for the work, either in class or in a take-home exercise, using the CAA Code. (See Illustrations for Teaching Script for Fair Use in Art Making for the Haring and Sturtevant examples.)

  4. For graduate students: Read the College Art Association’s policy on fair use in its publications, and the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. How would fair use be applied, using the Code, for illustrations in a selected portion of appropriate reading material for the course, such as Art since 1900, Vol. 2 (Foster, Krauss, Bois, Buchloh, “1960,” pp. 445–49) if this were published in CAA’s Art Bulletin or Art Journal? Which illustrations would have to be used only with permission, and which could be used under fair use?

  5. For graduate students in modern or contemporary art: Imagine you are organizing an online exhibition of paintings by twentieth-century artists. Lead a discussion about asserting fair use in publishing these images.