Did you know?

The exception to copyright law that allows for things like
parodies and noncommercial remix is called fair use.

Our mission

Copyright law, once primarily the domain of publishers and lawyers, is now relevant to anyone with an Internet connection and a “share” button. However, it is also one of the most confusing and subjective parts of the law, especially as policies struggle to keep up with developing technology and practices. How do people make decisions every day about how they can share and reuse content online? How does what people know (and don’t know) about the law affect their online interactions and technology use? In this research project we have looked to content analyses of Terms of Service and public conversations about copyright, as well as surveys and interviews with content creators. We have found evidence of chilling effects caused by misinformation online, complex social norms formed in the absence of clear legal rules, and ignorance of copyright policies and the terms you “click to agree” to online. Confusing policies and competing stakeholders create a complicated design space for online communities of creative production. Confusions and lack of knowledge about copyright is a pervasive usability problem worthy of our attention within HCI.

Our projects

Terms of Service

Do you know what rights you give away in your content when you post it online? We’ve analyzed the copyright licensing terms for common user-generated content sites to help online content creators understand their rights. Learn more about what rights websites require in your content, and also what other creators know and think about these often confusing terms.

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Fair Use

Fair use, the legal right to use some copyrighted content, is one of the most confusing parts of intellectual property law. We’ve studied understandings (and misunderstandings) of fair use in online creative communities. Learn more about how fair use applies to remix and fanworks, and how creators negotiate this often gray area of the law.

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Copyright is a frequent subject of conversation in online creative communities where creators share their work. We studied public conversations about copyright to find out how the law is impacting online creativity and interactions. Learn more about the problems that copyright law causes for people trying to be creative online, as well as answers to some of the common questions they have.

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