Answered By: Laura Sider
Last Updated: Mar 09, 2017     Views: 33

Q: How much of someone’s work can I use without permission?
Answered by: Laura Sider

It depends.  Under the Fair Use Doctrine (an exception to a copyright holder’s exclusive rights) a person may use a reasonable portion of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.  The smallest amount of the copyrighted work that gets your point across should be used.  Undertake a fair use analysis of the four factors to determine if YOUR use is considered fair.  The factors are:

  • The PURPOSE and character of the use, whether it is commercial or nonprofit educational.  Noncommercial educational uses tend to favor fair use.
  • The NATURE of the work.  Whether it is factual or creative.  The more creative, the LESS it favors fair use.
  • The AMOUNT and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole.  Using the heart of the copyrighted work DISFAVORS fair use.  Small portions or snippets favor fair use.
  • The MARKET effect of your use of the work.  Will your use have an impact on the creator’s ability to market his/her own work?  If no effect, it favors fair use.

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