Fair Use

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See also: Copyright

Fair use is a legal definition for the broad exception to an author's exclusive rights. It was designed to protect consumers with reasonable limits, by defining the commonly understood usage of copyrighted works. There are a number of important factors which define the fair use of a copyright work, including;

  • whether or not the work in question is being used for nonprofit or profitable use
  • is the work creative or fact based
  • how much of the original copyrighted work is used or if it has been altered considerably
  • what the resultant impact of the use might have on the economic value of the original and
  • who owns the original work, whether the person or company still exists and how likely it would be for them to defend it.

In theory it should go both ways. Fair use should mean that because you have purchased a license for something once, you continue to own that license indefinately. What that would mean is that once you have bought a piece of music you don't have to pay for it again again on different media.

Consumer rights, especially for copying, have come under fire with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act responding to the advent of easily copyable media and easy distribution over the Internet. Many believe this law goes overboard in protecting the content industry and restricting consumer rights.


  • Criticism and review, without author's express consent
  • Time shifting - the practice of temporarily recording broadcasts for later viewing
  • Education and learning related purposes
  • Creating backups
  • Making short samples

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