One of the difficult things about fair use is that it usually requires you to make the call. The hope is always that the judgement you make to assert fair use, whenever you do, will be made in the spirit of the law, in good faith, will be reasonable, and will be informed.
The circumstances you describe are certainly reasonable, you're using only very short clips. You've discovered the confusing array of opinions about fair use in the literature and you're consulting this list, you're making a clearly good faith effort to inform yourself. Now, if you consider section 107 of the statute, below, you'll have most of the information you need to make a judgement in these circumstances.
"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."
The statue does go on to mention the four factors courts will consider in determining fair use, on a case by case basis.
If you think about each of them, the purpose and character of your use (courts look more favorably on non-profit educational purposes), the nature of the material you're using, the amount of material you're using (be reasonable, don't use half of the whole when a tenth will do), and the market effect of your use on the market and potential markets for the original, and you then conclude that your circumstances are a fair use, I believe you've got a safe assertion.
Any judgement you make to use the clips without the copyright owners permission is well intentioned and informed, and the clips are reasonable in length. You'll probably never need to learn that definitive answer.
Dan Donnelly, Library Manager
Learning Resources Center/Digital Media Center
University of Minnesota
At 10:01 AM 2/1/2000 -0800, you wrote:
>I don't mean to open another can of worms, and since I am fairly new to this list you may have already resolved it, but here goes:
>The library here would like to sponser a program (that would be free of charge but open to the public as well as the school community) featuring a local film scholar talking about the role Utah has played in the motion picture industry. We would like to augment his remarks with 1-2 minute clips from the films he will be referring to.
>The million dollar question is this: since we are showing a brief excerpt of the work, do we need to secure permission from all of the copyright holders?
>I am finding all sorts of responses in the literature, I guess I am taking the lazy man's way out, but does anyone out there know FOR SURE? I have lots of opinions, I need a definitive answer.
>Thanks in advance!
>Utah Valley State College Library
>800 W. University Parkway
>Orem, Utah 84058
Dan Donnelly, Library Manager
Learning Resources Center
University of Minnesota Libraries