Copyright Fair Use

BestThinking has an unequivocal “No Plagiarism” policy, as outlined in the Participation Policy, that requires all Thinkers to follow the Copyright Policy specified in our Terms of Use, which in part requires compliance with the U.S. Copyright Law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 USC (DMCA).

While the copyright laws are intended to protect the rights of copyright owners, these rights are subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code). These limitations are intended to support freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. One of the more important of these limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law. The concept of fair use is an important part of creating, curating, and sharing content on BestThinking, especially in Trending Topics.

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair use, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets forth four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work.

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

Unfortunately the fair use doctrine remains vague and without definitive guidelines. There is no specific number of words, lines or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Exact copying of a majority of the original work is very likely beyond the fair use doctrine. A significant portion rewritten and supplemented by additional content that is sufficient to generate interest in the original content is more likely to comply with fair use (and more likely to minimize the incentive for the copyright owner to file a infringement claim).

The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using any copyrighted material. Since this is often not practical on the Web, at the very least one should always acknowledge the source of the acquired fair use content and if taken from a website, provide a link back to the original content. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material and a link does not substitute for obtaining permission if you think you might be exceeding fair use.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

Copyright protects the particular way authors have expressed themselves. It does not extend to any ideas, systems or factual information conveyed in a work.

Our current policy is that if the copyright owner files a notice of infringement using DMCA procedures (keep in mind the DMCA also provides for severe penalties for false claims of infringement), we remove the content from public view until an assessment can be made (because it is clear the copyright owner does not share your view about the balanced interests). In the absence of a DMCA Infringement Notice, we try to assess how we would feel if we were the copyright owner. Generally, if the fair use content raises the visibility of the copyright owner's work and the portion used under fair use leaves the reader wanting to link to the copyright owner's original work for more information, then the interest of the copyright owner is likely balanced with those seeking content.

Please see the following for more information.

Report Copyright Infringement

DISCLAIMER - The above is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Always consider obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney when contemplating actions that may be affected by matters of law. to Shut Down Permanently on December 31, 2017

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