In our discussions regarding copyright laws, I have been overwhelmed at the details involved in determining “fair use.” For example, documentary filmmakers must be aware of posters, music, and television programs in the background of their shots. They must pay proper attribution to these cultural artifacts, even if the objects did not play an integral role in the message of the film. Filmmakers must continually look at their work with fresh eyes to catch the unintended messages at work on the screen. In the course of producing their work, documentarians must understand and confront copyright laws.
Although the details of fair use laws can be daunting, it seems like fair use is one area where the intent of the act matters more than the act itself. I find the checklists used by IU librarians immensely helpful in considering the intention of the teacher, researcher, or author. The same goes for documentary filmmakers. In order to preserve the authenticity of their craft, they must utilize fair use laws in regard to background music and images. Any efforts to curtail the use of copyrighted material would seriously hinder their ability to tell their story.
Since copyright laws are shaped by the people who use it, I am pleased at the number of articles which encourage researchers and professors to push the boundaries of fair use laws. The documentary filmmakers demand that they have the same access to copyrighted material as critics and news broadcasters. In a similar fashion, Rosenzweig and Cohen argue that historians must actively use materials available through fair use so the rights of scholars are not undermined. The filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices brings up interesting points about other occupations that benefit from fair use laws. Who else does what historians do? Who else uses our source materials? Historians must actively know and shape copyright laws by demanding the same rights as historical filmmakers, popular writers, and others academics. While copyright laws often seem intimidating, “fair use” and proper intentions greatly ease our abilities to use sources.
Prospectus for my Final Project
I plan to create a newspaper database that I will use for my dissertation research. I anticipate using FileMaker Pro to help me keep track of news stories relating to riots. I have previously attempted to organize newspapers using Microsoft Excel, which was cumbersome for the number of fields I needed. Although Excel provided the necessary searchability, it was faster for me to manually perform some of the summations/calculations I needed (i.e. according to multiple sources, how many people died in a particular place?). I was also unable to pull entries with particular keywords. I basically had to remember and search by the location or the phrase I wanted. A FileMaker database will not only allow me heightened grouping and searchability, but this digital format will help me manage much more information more quickly than I could with notecards, file folders, or other traditional methods.
I plan to preserve the citation information in one table (newspaper name, city, section number, page number, date, article title, author). I also plan to label the type of article (editorial, letter to the editor, feature, AP release, advertisement). I will key in relevant passages and quotations to make sure I can search for them. Eventually I will probably add some tags for keywords. In another table, each riot will include the name by which it is popularly known, the date, the initiating incident, and list who was involved. From there, the “who” will include indicators of occupation, race, sex, age, and actual names if available. I hope to follow this up with action taken (police, military, corporate, legal) and against whom. By keeping each of these themes as a separate table, I hope to connect newspaper citations to the particular riot they describe so I can search by location, riot name, participants, or newspaper.
-How should my proposal for a personal database differ from the prescribed proposal format? For example, do I still need to argue why an organization might fund it?
-How should I handle review of sites/projects that are similar to my proposed project? Since I cannot necessarily see the actual databases behind some of the research, should I just focus on models that produce the type of research I plan to do?
-Is a homepage necessary?
I know that I will come up with many questions and problems as I am implementing this database, so I will continue to try to think through my guiding questions and goals as I draw out my fields and tables. I hope to save a lot of time and energy in the future by setting up this database now.