Ch. 5: Fair Use and Media Liability
Pt. 1: What Ad Agencies and Media Professionals Need to Know about Fair Use
Some uses — reporting, education, criticism and parody — fall under the fair use exemption, which allows you to use parts of copyrighted material. But how do you determine if your intended use falls under the exemption?
The Stanford University Libraries "Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors" guide cites a test used by judges in court to determine fair use. The four factors under consideration include:
- The purpose and character of your use. Has the material of the original work been transformed by adding new meaning? If something is copied verbatim, nothing new is being created.
- The nature of the copyrighted work. Is the material fact-based or fiction? Information that benefits the public has a wider scope of fair use.
- The amount and substantiality of the portion taken. Has the "heart" of the material been re-used? Taking the most memorable or substantial part of a work is ill-advised.
- The effect of the use upon the potential market. Does your use deprive the copyright owner of income or undermine a potential opportunity? Blocking avenues of revenue for the copyright owner, whether present or future, will most likely trigger a lawsuit.
For a more in-depth look at each factor, consult the Stanford University Libraries guidelines.
A media company should never assume it has the right to use copyrighted materials. Consult with a lawyer about whether your use might qualify as fair use or seek permission to use materials.
Next: Ch. 6: Defamation and Media Liability: Why Media Firms Need to Worry about Reputational Lawsuits