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Community Guidelines

These Community Guidelines are intended to guide our users toward creative, respectful uses of the Critical Commons archive; they are not meant to be didactic or annoying. We take it as a testament to the sophistication, good faith and self-monitoring of our user community that we have never received a single DMCA takedown notice or claim of copyright infringement. Please help us keep it that way!

For legal stuff, please consult our Terms of Service page.

It's up to you.
First of all, it's up to each user to determine whether they are operating within the parameters of fair use. For us, the best source of information is the series of Codes of Best Practices in Fair Use issued by the Center for Social Media. All users of this site are encouraged to explore the best practices associated with their community or intended use. If you don't find your specific community represented among the CSM codes, the model of thinking about fair use they represent can still help you make good decisions.

It's better to give than (just) receive.
We realize that it's easier to download than upload but, as with any community resource, the value of the archive only increases if you give as well as take. Think of this as public radio but, instead of being asked to give money in exchange for tote bags, we're asking you to share your media and ideas in exchange for community appreciation!

Not every question about fair use is a legal one.
You may also want to weigh decisions about what to upload or download based on your own personal sense of ethics. Assuming a work's owner is not a "big, faceless corporation," how would that person feel about having their work excerpted, commented and redistributed in this network? If you are a creator yourself, under what circumstances are you willing to have others re-use your work? Although "fair use" does not require asking permission or notifying copyright owners, sometimes that may be the polite thing to do.

Enough to make your point.
Fair use claims - and pedagogical strategies - are strengthened when you use as much as you need to make your point and no more. This is also just practical, efficient and good file management. Everyone benefits if you are concise and economical with your uploads.

Only fair use?
Critical Commons was specifically designed and built to support transformative uses of copyrighted media, especially in educational contexts. If you have media that doesn't require the protection of fair use (such as a course lecture, student film or home movie), we suggest uploading it to the Internet Archive or a commercial video sharing site. They have bigger, faster servers and better transcoding systems than we do. Plus, the uploading process is faster and easier because you don't have to add lots of metadata and critical commentary to justify your use.

What quality?
This is a subjective decision that is dependent upon your context and purpose. Some users of the site are film geeks for whom high resolution and good compression is imperative, but for some critical treatments this is less necessary. Feel free to upload your HD files with 10.2 surround sound if you have them, but we've had good luck with MPEG4s using H.264 compression set to around 65% quality or around 1500Kbps.

What tools?
For excerpting and exporting clips to upload, we recommend using  MPEG Streamclip.

Subtitles and captions?
Dynamic subtitles are currently disabled in our media player. However, we welcome open captioning for hearing impaired users and (burned-in) subtitles for speakers of other languages. We also love it when a duplicate file is uploaded without the text overlays. It's easy to link the same text commentary to both clips and thus serve the widest possible range of viewers and critical contexts.

When to flag.
Any piece of media may be flagged by any user at any time. This is the best and only mechanism to let us know about the presence of inappropriate content or uses that might not be fair. This feature is especially useful to empower users to collectively develop a sensibility about what constitutes our own best practices in fair use.

What happens in Critical Commons stays in Critical Commons.
We're tired of social media networks that mine our data, exploit our labor and put ads over video. None of your activity on the site is tracked or sold and no advertising will ever appear on Critical Commons.

Feedback welcome.
Please let us know how you're using Critical Commons and if you have any questions or problems using the site. What features or improvements you would like to see in the future? How can we make the site work better for you?