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:
- 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.
- Nature of the Copyrighted Work: Facts and published works are more susceptible to fair use. Imaginative or unpublished works get more protection.
- 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.
- 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.