One of the most well-known laws is copyright law. A little lesser known is fair use. Fair use is one of the major exceptions to copyright law that everyone should be aware of. The premise of fair use is that eventually most journalists, and authors will paraphrase each other in some sort of fashion. Thus is your use of another person’s written material falls under any of these circumstances you could be absolved of responsibility.
- Commentary or Criticism
Creating a review or you are commenting on the original work could be considered acceptable if depending on how much of the original work is displayed in your commentary
- Educational Use
If your work is being used to explain the original author’s work, such as taking a quote to analyze a piece for your students would be deemed acceptable.
If the work you created was used to mock the original work, you may be able to get away with your copyright issues. This is the exception that allows Al Yankovic to make his many hits.
While these “loop holes” exist, there are some more things you want to consider when using someone else’s work.
- Was the Use Commercial?
If you made a considerable profit off the original piece fair use might not be enough. Even if you credited the creator, your profit might outweigh the specifics of your use.
- Did You Create Something New?
It will be extremely difficult to argue under the fair use if your work is almost an exact replica of the original. Copying the original work is almost unsalvageable in the court of law.
- Did You Give the Author Credit?
A common misconception is that if you give the author credit, you have free usage to the original work. The reality is that each author/creator has specific parameters for the way they want their work to be used. If you don’t know these specifics tread carefully.
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