Understanding Fair Use Rights

By: Rose DesRochers

What is copyright? Copyright is defined as “The legal protection given to authors which protects them against unauthorized copying of their work." Copyright infringement is defined as “a violation of the rights secured by a copyright."

All writers at one time or another have quoted something someone else has written. I see it all the time throughout the writing industry. Maybe you quoted the lines of a poem or a line from an article or the words from a song. I quoted the work of another author in the above paragraph, where I defined copyright. Given my example in the opening paragraph, did I just infringe on the author’s copyright? Should I have gotten permission from the said author to quote them? No, under what is known as “fair use", I may quote the author without seeking permission.

There is a misconception in the writing world about what fair use is. Fair use is defined as “a concept in copyright law that allows limited use of copyright material without requiring permission from the rights holders, eg, for scholarship or review."

If you were to publish an author’s article in its full entirety without seeking permission from that author you would be violating their copyright even if you credited the author and provided a link to the source of the article. Quoting two lines from the news article with a link to the entire article would be considered fair use. Except for the facts in the article, news articles are protected under copyright laws. So when are you allowed the right to fair use? Fair use is allowed for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

I hope that this article has given you a better understanding of fair use. For more information on copyright, please visit http://www.copyright.gov

Acknowledgement: Help & FAQs - Jargon Explained (AF) [James Hardiman Library - NUI ... -http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/help/jargon/

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