Fair Use for Copyright Infringement

If someone uses copyrighted work without permission, they are breaking the law.

But… there are exceptions where you are allowed to use copyrighted work, such as Fair Use.

Fair Use is a legal doctrine allowing the limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder.

Four Factors the Courts Evaluate to Decide on Fair Use:

  1. Purpose and Character of Use: Whether the use is for non-profit educational purposes or commercial nature. Transformative works, which add new meaning or context, are favored.
  2. Nature of the Copyrighted Work: Facts and published works are more susceptible to fair use. Imaginative or unpublished works get more protection.
  3. Amount and Substantiality: Consideration of the portion used concerning the copyrighted work as a whole. Even small portions can be deemed substantial if they’re the “heart” of the work.
  4. Effect on Market Value: If the use might harm the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Common Fair Use Scenarios:

  • Criticism and Commentary: Like a book review or a film critique.
  • Parody: Mimicking a work to mock or make fun, like “Weird Al” Yankovic’s songs.
  • Educational Use: Teachers using copyrighted materials in classroom settings.
  • News Reporting: Journalists showcasing parts of copyrighted works in news stories.

Remember, fair use is NOT a straightforward right… it is a defense. 

If sued for copyright infringement, you would need to prove in court that your use falls under fair use.

While fair use provides flexibility in the realm of copyright, it’s not a blanket permission. It’s essential to understand its boundaries and stay within them.

Contact our firm if you have questions about copyright infringement or fair use.