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What is “Fair Use” of Copyrighted Material?


All artists, authors, and designers take pride in their work. For this reason, when they believe their work has been stolen or appropriated, they feel insulted, angry, and want to ensure they get the credit they deserve. That said, there are some cases where “fair use” comes into play, which can make a case of copyright infringement a bit more complicated. In fact, “fair use” is one of the most common defenses against copyright infringement lawsuits. Read on and reach out to our copyright infringement lawyers to learn more about fair use law and whether it may or may not apply to your case. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What is fair use law?

Of course, when someone publishes and copyrights a work and another person takes that work in its entirety and uses it for their own benefit, it is considered copyright infringement. That said, fair use law, outlined in the Copyright Act, essentially states that in some cases, using small portions of copyrighted works without the explicit permission of the work’s owner may be acceptable and considered “fair use.” Fair use law applies to the gamut of mediums, including illustrations, published text, sound recordings, architectural designs, and more.

What constitutes “fair use?”

While there are some specific measures used to discern whether an instance of copyright infringement or fair use has occurred, in many ways, fair use is largely subjective and will be decided upon by the judge overseeing a given case. That said, some examples of what is traditionally accepted to be fair use include using a small portion of a work for the purposes of comment, criticism, and scholarly research. Another common instance of “fair use” is printing copies of copyrighted work to use for teaching purposes.

Ultimately, courts will determine whether an instance of copyright infringement has been committed, or if it’s just an instance of fair use, on a case-by-case basis, and will typically use the “four-factor” test to make their decision.

If you believe your copyrighted work has been stolen and you need a legal team who can help you retrieve it, please don’t hesitate to contact CopyCat Legal, PLLC today.

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