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Patricia Aufderheide University Professor SOC - Communication Studies

Send email to Patricia Aufderheide
(202) 885-2069 (Office)
SOC - School of Communication
McKinley - 323
Additional Positions at AU
Affiliate Professor, School of International Service
Affiliate Professor, History Department
BA History (summa cum laude), University of Minnesota; MA History, University of Minnesota; PhD History, University of Minnesota

Languages Spoken
Portuguese, Spanish
Patricia Aufderheide is University Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C. She founded the School's Center for Media & Social Impact, where she continues as Senior Research Fellow. She is also affiliate faculty in the School of International Service and the History department at American University, and a member of the Film and Media Arts division in the School of Communication. Her books include Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago), with Peter Jaszi; Documentary: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford), The Daily Planet (University of Minnesota Press), and Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press). She has been a Fulbright Research Fellow twice, in Brazil (1994-5) and Australia (2017). She is also a John Simon Guggenheim fellow (1994) and has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival among others. Aufderheide has received numerous journalism and scholarly awards, including the George Stoney award for service to documentary from the University Film and Video Association in 2015, the International Communication Association's 2010 for Communication Research as an Agent of Change Award, Woman of Vision award from Women in Film and Video (DC) in 2010, a career achievement award in 2008 from the International Digital Media and Arts Association and the Scholarship and Preservation Award in 2006 from the International Documentary Association.

Patricia Aufderheide is proud to publish with her students. Recent co-publications featuring our PhD and MFA students include:

Bello, B., Aufderheide, P. (2021). The Public Interest and the Information Superhighway: The Digital Futures Coalition, 1995-1998 and the afterlife of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Information & Culture, 56(1).

Sinnreich, A. A., Aufderheide, P., Clifford, M., Shahin, S. S. (2020). Access shrugged: The decline of the copyleft and the rise of utilitarian openness. New Media & Society(2020-9-12)

Aufderheide, P., Lieberman, D., Alkallouf, A., Ugboma, J. M. (2020). Podcasting as Public Media: The Future of News, Public Affairs and Educational Podcasts. International Journal of Communication.

Aufderheide, P., Sinnreich, A. A., Imperiale, L., Silvernail, C. (2019). Norms-Shifting for Digital and Online Arts Practice: Copyright and Fair Use in The Visual Arts Community. Visual Arts Research.

Aufderheide, P., Haywood, A., Sánchez Santos, M. (August 18, 2020). "PEG Community Access: Local Communication Hubs in a Pandemic". (pp. 20). Washington, DC: Center for Media & Social Impact.

See Also
Center for Media and Social Impact
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


Spring 2023

  • COMM-411 History of Documentary

  • COMM-711 Teaching Seminar in Comm

  • COMM-899 Doctoral Dissertation

Summer 2023

  • COMM-899 Doctoral Dissertation

Fall 2023

  • COMM-899 Doctoral Dissertation

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

Copyright, journalism, media criticism, U.S. and international telecommunication policy; press ethics, 1996 Telecommunications Act, telecommunication innovations, information access and equity, free speech, fair use, digital media

Additional Information

Patricia Aufderheide specializes in the social impact of mass media and communication policies. She is director of AU’s Center for Social Media, which analyzes and showcases media for social justice, civil society, and democracy. She co-authored, with Peter Jaszi, Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (University of Chicago Press, 2011), and authored Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2007); The Daily Planet: A Critic on the Capitalist Culture Beat (University of Minnesota Press, 2000); and Communications Policy in the Public Interest (Guilford Press, 1999). With Peter Jaszi in the Washington College of Law, she has coordinated since 2004 the Fair Use and Free Speech Project, a project to expand access to the copyright doctrine of fair use. Focusing on independent and international work, Aufderheide is an award-winning film and video critic who has been a juror for the Sundance Film Festival. She has also served on the film advisory board of the National Gallery of Art, and on the board of directors of the Independent Television Service, an organization that produces television programming for underserved audiences. Aufderheide is on the board of directors of Kartemquin Films, a leading independent social documentary production company. She is a member of the editorial boards of numerous publications, including Communication and Law and Policy, and the newspaper In These Times. She has received several life-achievement awards, including in 2010 from Women in Film and Video (D.C.); in 2008 from the International Digital Media and Arts Association, and in 2006 from the International Documentary Association. Her current projects focus on social documentary and intellectual property.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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