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Fair Use

Last Updated October 30, 2009

Copyright Fair Use is defined as:

n. the non-competitive right to use of copyrighted material without giving the author the right to compensation or to sue for infringement of copyright.

Source: http://dictionary.law.com

Copyright Law, Title 17 Chapter 1 113(c), specifically states:

In the case of a work lawfully reproduced in useful articles that have been offered for sale or other distribution to the public, copyright does not include any right to prevent the making, distribution, or display of pictures or photographs of such articles in connection with advertisements or commentaries related to the distribution or display of such articles, or in connection with news reports. (emphasis added)

A fair use defense in copyright law creates limitations on the exclusive rights enjoyed by owners of protected works. In considering whether a fair use defense exists, Congress supplied the courts with four factors to consider: the purpose and character of the accused use; the nature of the copyrighted work; the importance of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the accused use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. These factors of any use are in no way definitive, but instead act as factors that are to be balanced in equity by a court. The Supreme Court hinted as to the strength of individual factors in Harper & Row Publishers v. Nation Enterprises, observing that the fourth factor, the effect of the accused use on the potential market or value of the copyrighted work, was "undoubtedly the single most important element of fair use."

The Copyright Office offers the following on fair use:

Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances. See FL 102, Fair Use, and Circular 21 , Reproductions of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.

Source:
http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-fairuse.html#howmuch

Court cases concerning fair use:
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