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Fair Use Defense in Markdown

This is your major assignment for the Text section of this course. It will count for 10% of your final grade. You will write the document in Markdown, post versions of it to GitHub, and then host it on your website.

Assignment details

  • 750 -1000 word document containing multiple Markdown formatting elements (see below)
  • Rough draft due for workshopping in class 9/20 9/22.
  • Optional draft due to Prof. Vee by 9/27 (11:59pm), as a link to anywhere (e.g., * shared StackEdit document).
  • Final version to be graded due 10/7 (11:59pm).
  • The Final version will be turned in as link on our blog to a .md file posted in a GitHub repo with at least two previous versions.


For this assignment, I'm asking you to choose one remix or mashup and write a defense of what it does with copyrighted material by using the Fair Use exceptions to U.S. Copyright law. You may choose the remix you already posted to the blog, or find a new one. I will assess your defense based on these criteria:

  • Do you describe the remix's use of copyrighted material in detail?
  • Did you cite specific aspects or definitions in 17 U.S. Code Chapter 1?
  • Did you effectively address all four factors of Fair Use?
  • Does your defense offer a good persuasive argument that the remix should not be considered copyright infringement?


Because this is an assignment in Markdown, I will also be looking at the way you write your defense, not just what you say. Specifically, I'll look for:

  • Is your defense clearly and logically organized?
  • Is it free of typos, grammatical errors and anything else that makes it look unprofessional?
  • Is it turned in in the format I asked for?
  • Does your defense include multiple Markdown formatting elements? You must include:
  • Title and author (you)
  • A link to your remix
  • An embedded image of your remix
  • emphasis (either bold or italics or both)
  • at least one table
  • at least three different levels of headings
  • at least one unordered or ordered list
  • multiple paragraphs ...You can include more elements if you'd like.

Where and how to turn in your work

You need to compose this document in Markdown. Do not compose it in Word or Google docs and convert it. You might be able to do that and have me not notice, but then you wouldn't be learning Markdown, and I wonder: why are you taking this class, anyway?

You can use StackEdit or Dillinger or Atom or any other Markdown editor to compose your document. You should produce a .md file, which you save to your local machine and also share online. For your first versions, you can share your document online in any way that's easiest for you. For the final version I grade, I want you to share your .md document in a public GitHub repository (repo), with at least two previous versions. We will talk in class the week of 9/20 about versioning and using GitHub.

A few tips on writing this assignment

This is a pretty short assignment: 750-1000 words. So you have to make every word count. Be as concise and persuasive as you can. You can use your Markdown lists to your advantage here.

I encourage you to rely on the readings and resources we've read so far for the class. I'm not expecting you to be a lawyer, or to produce an airtight defense of a remix. If your remix is a really tough case for a Fair Use defense, that's all right. Pretend that you're a public defender and you have to do your best to defend it anyway. I'm a professor looking at your writing and form; I'm not a judge slated to make a decision about whether it's actually Fair Use.

As you compose this assignment, remember that you can use each other as resources, too. You will be put in groups to discuss your work in class on 9/20. You can also post questions on our Slack channel, which may be answered by me or other students. I also have office hours and have given you the option of getting feedback from me prior to grading, if you turn your work in to me by 9/27.

Goals of this assignment

I hope that this assignment will help you:

  • Understand and apply the debates and particulars about Copyright Law and Fair * Use exception to a specific case.
  • Gain familiarity with a popular markup language, Markdown.
  • Understand some of the benefits of sharing documents in markup and plain text formatting, rather than in proprietary formats (e.g., docx)
  • Gain familiarity with some of the current tools for composing and sharing documents online (e.g., StackEdit, GitHub)

Good luck and please email, talk to me in class or visit me in office hours to ask any questions you have about this assignment.

Written with StackEdit.