The Ethical and Legal Implications of Information Systems
Another important provision within copyright law is that of fair use. Fair use is a limitation on copyright law that allows for the use of protected works without prior authorization in specific cases. For example, if a teacher wanted to discuss a current event in class, copies of the copyrighted new story could be handed out in class without first getting permission. Fair use is also what allows a student to quote a small portion of a copyrighted work in a research paper.
Unfortunately, the specific guidelines for what is considered fair use and what constitutes copyright violation are not well defined. Fair use is a well-known and respected concept and will only be challenged when copyright holders feel that the integrity or market value of their work is being threatened. The following four factors are considered when determining if something constitutes fair use:
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- The nature of the copyrighted work;
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.
If you are ever considering using a copyrighted work as part of something you are creating, you may be able to do so under fair use. However, it is always best to check with the copyright owner to be sure you are staying within your rights and not infringing upon theirs.