How to Be Protected From a Copyright Infringement Claim

Ellena Arroyo

Some areas of the copyright laws might be complicated but the basics can be simple. For instance, copyright infringement can be avoided by obtaining permission from the owner. This article will briefly define “fair use” and its four factors that the judges consider fair, namely; the character and purpose of your use, the nature, the portion taken, and the effect of your use of the original work.

“Fair use” is any copying of original work for a limited and transformative use. Also, the use of a copyrighted material is considered “fair use” if it’s for the purposes of news reporting, criticism and comment, research and scholarship, parody and educational as long as it is non-profit.

To put it simply, if your use qualifies as a fair use, it can be used as a defence against a copyright infringement claim. So, before you get a Copyright Collections letter or a TCYK LLC letter, here are a few tips that could help you avoid copyright infringement altogether.

First, instead of copying, the courts consider the use of copyrighted material “fair” if it is used in a transformative way. This means that it alters the original work’s fundamental character or a new expression and meaning is added to it. For example, citing a line from another poem to create a new one is considered fair use.

Second, identify the nature of the copyrighted work as it is another factor that the courts consider. Your fair use case will be stronger if you copy from a published work as unpublished ones are highly creative and are therefore more closely protected.

Third, take less from the original work for it to be excused as a fair use and make sure it’s the main idea or function of that work. For copying to be fair, you should not take the most memorable part of the work. Less is more holds true in parody cases as the Supreme Court has acknowledge “the heart is also what most readily conjures up the [original] for parody, and it is the heart at which parody takes aim.”

Finally, evaluate the effect of your use of the original work. To avoid a lawsuit, make sure your use does not deprive the copyright owner of a potential income of the copyrighted work or undermine a new or potential market for the original work.

Copyright infringement can be avoided by limiting yourself to “fair use” of the copyright. So, to keep from getting a Copyright Collections letter or a lawsuit, check if your use is still under fair use. You could also make your own original material and be creative so you don’t have to use other people’s work.

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