The four Copyrights Fair Use Factors

The term fair use is usually used during a copyright infringement suit. There are four Copyrights Fair Use Factors that the court faced when there is an argument about infringement of the copyright. There are four fair use factors:

1-Purpose and Character of the Use.

The first fair use factor refers mainly to the function for which the copied material is being used. Since copyright law favors the encouragement of scholarship, research, education, and commentary, a judge is more likely to make a determination of fair use if the defendant’s use is noncommercial, educational, scientific, or historical. However, an educational or scientific use that is for commercial purposes may not be excused by the fair use doctrine.

2-Nature of the Copyright Work. 

The second factor in the fair use determination is the nature of the work that’s being copied. For example, a court will ordinarily consider whether the work being copied is informational or entertaining in nature. A judge is more likely to find a determination of fair use if material is copied from a factual work, such as a biography, than from a fictional work, such as a novel.

3-Amount of Copyright Work Used.

In another case, a court permitted a biographer to quote from six unpublished letters and ten unpublished journal entries of the late novelist Richard Wright. One factor that weighed in favor of the biographer was the amount of the portions that were used. The court determined that no more than 1% of Mr. Wright’s unpublished letters and journal were copied. When considering the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, the court looks at not just the quantity of the material but the quality of the material taken.

4- Effect of the Use on the Potential Market.

The fourth factor in a fair-use determination is the effect of the use on the potential market for the work that was copied. Consideration of this factor is intended to strike a balance between the benefit that the public will derive if the use is permitted and the personal gain that the copyright owner will receive if the use is denied.

A judge must consider the effect on the potential market for the copyrighted work. This consideration goes beyond the past intentions of the author or the means by which the author is currently exploiting the work.


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