Nine Kinds of Video Quotation

The American University Center for Social Media has released a new study on Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video. I’d expect no less from lead authors Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, but the report has a great breakdown of the sorts of reuse of copyrighted materials that people engage in in their videos. They found nine categories. Here’s danah’s concise summary:

  • Parody and satire: Copyrighted material used in spoofing of popular mass media, celebrities or politicians (Baby Got Book)
  • Negative or critical commentary: Copyrighted material used to communicate a negative message (Metallica Sucks)
  • Positive commentary: Copyrighted material used to communicate a positive message (Steve Irwin Fan Tribute)
  • Quoting to trigger discussion: Copyrighted material used to highlight an issue and prompt public awareness, discourse (Abstinence PSA on
  • Illustration or example: Copyrighted material used to support a new idea with pictures and sound (Evolution of Dance)
  • Incidental use: Copyrighted material captured as part of capturing something else (Prisoners Dance to Thriller)
  • Personal reportage/diaries: Copyrighted material incorporated into the chronicling of a personal experience (Me on stage with U2… AGAIN!!!)
  • Archiving of vulnerable or revealing materials: Copyrighted material that might have a short life on mainstream media due to controversy (Stephen Colbert’s Speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner)
  • Pastiche or collage: Several copyrighted materials incorporated together into a new creation, or in other cases, an imitation of sorts of copyrighted work (Apple Commercial)

The fair use cases for works in different categories inflect very differently. Parody and pastiche, for example, hang their hats on their transformativity. Archiving, on the other hand, is a practice that’s critically depends on its faithfulness—on the promise that the archiver has added nothing to and subtracted nothing from the original. Reflecting on these different sorts of uses is important to understanding the vitality of user-generated video and how best to encourage it.