Some areas of copyright law can be complicated, but the basics can be simple. For example, copyright infringement can be prevented by obtaining the permission of the owner. This article will briefly define “fair use” and its four factors that 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 copy of the original work for limited, transformative use. Additionally, use of copyrighted material is considered “fair use” if it is for the purposes of news reporting, commentary and commentary, research and scholarship, parody, and education, as long as it is not for profit.

Simply put, if your use qualifies as fair use, it can be used as a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. So, before you get a letter from Copyright Collections or a letter from TCYK LLC, here are some tips that might help you avoid copyright infringement altogether.

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

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 Your fair use case will be stronger if you copy from a published work, since unpublished works are very creative and therefore more protected.

Third, take less of the original work to be excused as fair use and make sure it is the main idea or function of that work. For the copy to be fair, it should not take the most memorable part of the work. Less is more is true in parody cases, as the Supreme Court has recognized that “the heart is also what most easily evokes the [original] for the parody, and it is the heart that the parody aims at”.

Finally, evaluate the effect of your use of the original work. To avoid a lawsuit, make sure your use doesn’t deprive the copyright owner of potential income from 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 copyright. Therefore, to avoid receiving a Copyright Collections letter or lawsuit, please check to see if your use is still under fair use. You can also make your own original material and be creative so you don’t have to use other people’s work.

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