Other applications of the fair use doctrine

Over the years, the courts have defined certain conditions as fair use of copyrighted material without permission. This doctrine is applied on a case-by-case basis, with decisions generally being based on four aspects: the purpose of the use, publication status, amount used, and potential for competition.

Every case is unique, but in general classroom use has almost always been considered fair. Educational uses have been viewed more favorably than if the use is for profit. If the material has been published (for example, as a book, an article, or electronically) it generally will be viewed more favorably than if it has not been published (like a personal letter or laboratory notes). Use of only part of the work has been viewed more favorably than use of the entire work. Finally, it will be viewed more favorably if your use will not damage the potential market of the original.

It should be noted that photocopying services are sometimes still overly cautious in applying this doctrine because of lawsuits brought against them by publishers during the 1990s. During that time, many copy shops were copying material for classroom use, but also binding, packing, and selling the materials for profit. Now, once burned and twice shy, they may refuse to make copies or scan images for you. However, they usually will let you scan images and make copies yourself. Because you are simply using them for an educational presentation and not making a profit on these materials, there is no violation. (However, if you were a professional speaker, you would need to revisit the question.)

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