Make use of fair use
In 1976, Fair Use was officially added to U.S. copyright law. That law says that there are four factors to be considered when deciding if a use is covered.
Nov 4, 2015
Note: I am so not a lawyer. Even if you don't use Google Books or don't like Google Books, its victory in the courts a couple of weeks ago was a huge win for all of us. That victory solidified our right to reuse copyrighted materials under specific circumstances without having to ask permission. This is vital to keep our culture and democracy alive. That's not how the Court put it but that's the essence of the Fair Use doctrine, a limitation on the reach of copyright that is, alas, unusual among nations. Fair Use lets you reproduce copyrighted material if, for example, you're reviewing it, commenting on it, or parodying it, especially if you're not providing a substitute that would affect the original's sales. (It's way more complicated than that. Ask any lawyer.) The Google Books case is important because it establishes Fair Use more firmly than ever, and clarifies that it applies more broadly than its opponents would like. The legal historian Oren Bracha argues that Fair Use arose in the 19th Century as copyright was getting more inclusive and restrictive. Before that, copyright gave a printer an exclusive right to make copies, but otherwise was surprisingly permissive. For example, people were allowed to abridge a novel and publish it, or to translate it into a different language, all without getting the author's permission or compensating him/her.
A (very) brief history of copyrightOver time, copyright was applied not just to what came off of a particular printer's printing press but to the abstract idea of the work, so that the author could control every physical expression of that work. As the author's grip was tightened, exemptions needed to be specified so that there could still be reasonable discussion of the work. Imagine if an author could refuse to let a reviewer cite a passage in a book if the review were critical. Imagine you had to ask permission to quote a sentence of an article in a report you were writing. Imagine you couldn't parody Donald Trump without first having him review what you're going to say. So, Fair Use became a thing. In 1976, it was officially added to U.S. copyright law. That law says that there are four factors to be considered when deciding if a use is covered by Fair Use:
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 2. the nature of the copyrighted work [ e.g., is it fiction? non-fiction?]; 3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and 4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.The purposes mentioned in #1 traditionally have included scholarship, political commentary, parody, and more. Yes, those four factors are vague. Fair Use has always been vague. But that has the virtue of enabling it to be applied quite broadly. Of course, it also raises the risk that it will be interpreted very narrowly. The Google Books verdict establishes a precedent for applying it broadly in ways especially important to the continuing life and value of the Internet.