In the digital age, intellectual property protections are a hot-button issue. Information is freely accessible and widely shared online, blurring the lines between what is free to use and what copyright laws protect. Adding to that confusion is the fair use doctrine.
Before you address any perceived copyright infringement, you should understand the difference between infringement and fair use.
What is fair use?
The fair use doctrine permits the use of portions of copyrighted works without permission for educational, critical or journalistic purposes. In addition, transformative works, or creations that alter the viewpoint, perspective or substance of copyrighted works often qualify as fair use. Fair use also considers how much of and what parts of copyrighted works you use. Using crucial, formative elements in their entirety may not qualify as fair use, though copyright protections do not apply to facts, so using factual information, especially if in a different presentation, is typically fair use.
What is infringement?
Copyright infringement involves the commercial use of copyrighted material for monetary gain. When the individual in question uses copyrighted material for their own commercial growth or to create confusion in the marketplace that could disrupt your business, this usually qualifies as infringement. Using material portions of copyrighted material in a promotional manner without authorization may confuse consumers and lead them astray, which copyright law prohibits.
Consider the nature of the copyrighted material’s use, the intention behind that use and the portion of the material used when assessing infringement or fair use. Protect your intellectual property from infringement and preserve your rights under copyright law.