Copyright and Fair Use

Chapter 10 in the Online Journalism textbook looks at the issues of copyright and fair use…

…and the author James Foust offers the following advice:

“You should generally assume that anything you encounter on the Internet is copyrighted, unless it is expressly offered for public domain use. This includes emails, bulletin boards, images, music lyrics, cartoons, sound and video files and Web page content.”

Foust goes on to describe “fair use,” which allows journalists and others to use part of a copyrighted work in certain situations.

Again, Foust writes:

Fair use doctrine is based on the notion that there is no such thing as a completely original thought or idea and that all artistic and literary works are to some degree dirvative of previous works.

Fair use is designed to allow criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching and research involving copywrited works. In these endeavors, the law recognizes that is it often necessary to actually use part of the original work. For example, a book critic may want to cite several passages of a new novel….”

In fair use cases, courts look at four factors:
1. The purpose and character of the use
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used
4. The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

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