Friday, April 28, 2017

Content Creators: What's Fair and What's Foul?

Bill’s Daily Briefing on Bill O'Reilly's website comprises "a daily assortment of copyright violations," according to The Washington Post.

O'Reilly's spokesman says lawyers okayed the daily cut-and-paste job because "this usage falls squarely within the fair use doctrine—the same doctrine that has allowed an untold number of news aggregation sites to exist online.”

Every content creator should grasp the basics of fair use—or quit creating content.

Fair use (part of the Copyright Act) protects you from a lawsuit when you use copyrighted material while creating a new work.

You can use copyrighted material, according to the law, for "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research;" but your use must not undermine "the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."

Courts have traditionally ruled in favor of critics, commentators and reporters defending themselves against copyright infringement when their work wasn't simple piracy; i.e., when they added to and altered the original material.

They have also ruled in defendants' favor when the copyrighted material reused was "newsworthy," "factual" and "unpublished." In contrast, courts have protected the copyright owners of fictional works, and of works not published to protect trade secrets. They have also protected copyright owners who showed defendants' excerpts lowered the market value of their material.

In a nutshell, fair use protects content creators who:
  • Use others' work for the clear purpose of criticism, commentary or news reporting
  • Don't simply repost others' work, but transform or improve it
  • Use others' work for non-profit purposes
  • Use only brief excerpts of others' work
  • Respect others' requests for attribution, and
  • Use out-of-print sources with little to no market value
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