We’re taking time this week to answer some of the questions we get asked most frequently. Copyright questions are certainly at the top of the list. Today we tackle the basics of Fair Use.
Question: What is Fair Use?
Fair Use is an exception to the rights of copyright owners and allows the public to make limited uses of copyrighted work.
In determining whether a particular use is “Fair Use,” a court weighs four factors:
(1) Purpose and character of use (commercial or educational)
(2) Nature of the copyrighted work
(3) Amount and substantiality of portion used in relation to the work as a whole
(4) Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of copyrighted work
Fair use is a balancing test – does the overall use after evaluating and applying all four factors lean in favor of or against fair use? As you can imagine, this is very fact-specific and there is no one right answer. The bottom line: think of fair use as a defense – it is always better to obtain permission or have a license to use copyrighted work (or use a work in the public domain); if not, then we may rely on fair use after balancing the four factors above.
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