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Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976,
allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism,
comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.
Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.
Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.
FAIR USE DEFINITION:
Fair use is a doctrine in the United States copyright law that allows
limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from
the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting,
research, teaching or scholarship. It provides for the legal,
non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in
another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test. The term
“fair use” originated in the United States. A similar principle, fair
dealing, exists in some other common law jurisdictions. Civil law
jurisdictions have other limitations and exceptions to copyright.
U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE- FAIR USE DEFINITION
One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to
reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or
phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in
sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U.S. Code).
One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use”.
The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of
court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of
the copyright law.
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the
reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as
criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
Section 107 also sets out in four factors to be considered in
determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use
is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and
not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or
notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the
source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining
The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision
of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have
regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism
for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a
scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the
author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the
work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations,
in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to
replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a
small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in
legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and
fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located
in the scene of an event being reported.”
Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed
himself. It does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual
information conveyed in the work.
The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright
owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot
give this permission.
When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted
material should be avoided unless the doctrine of fair use would clearly
apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a
certain use may be considered fair nor advise on possible copyright
violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an