In a session at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film, music and technology festival, Partner Michael Donaldson presented on fair use in documentary and narrative films. The courts have developed a simple way to find the safe harbor for fair use in documentary films, and Mr. Donaldson’s highly interactive presentation, “Fair Use Docs & Fiction Films,” outlined three simple questions filmmakers can ask in order to learn if they can legally use material pursuant to fair use.
Dubbed “the Obi-Wan Kenobi of fair use” by the American Bar Association, Mr. Donaldson covered his past experiences with fair use issues, his fair use technique, and examples of fair use in fictional films by many of his clients, including Oliver Stone, Terrence Malick, and Richard Linklater.
SXSW is an annual set of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place mid-March in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 1987, and has grown in both size and scope since then.