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Fair use

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Fair use is a concept, unique to the copyright laws of the United States, that governs the extent to which any person may use any copyrighted work without the explicit permission of the copyright owner. Fair use became part of US copyright law in 1980, with the last major revision of the copyright statutes. Fair use doctrine today is an amalgam of statutory law (Title 17, US Code, Section 107) and case law.

As a nonprofit educational website, the CreationWiki qualifies for fair use claims of copyright material, but authors are asked to use this option only as a last resort. It it preferred that permission be granted for copyrighted images. See: Upload policy.

The Letter of the Law

Section 107 reads as follows:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

  • (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;
  • (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The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

The Copyright Office emphasizes in their description that the above do not constitute a set of hard-and-fast rules. They are instead a guide for judges.

Related References

See Also