Today’s topic is an important one. Copyright is a topic that is near and dear to an author’s heart. Although there are differences between countries, this post can serve as a great introduction to the topic.
Anyone who has been hanging around the indie world for even the shortest time knows that there has been an uptick in authors threatening book reviewers with lawsuits claiming copyright violation. I shake my head every time I see it. Attorney/Author Sean Keefer has returned with his pithy advice on the subject of copyright and fair use. This time addressing book reviews and fair use.
In my last post on the Author CEO I covered the topic of copyright in regard to original works, where I briefly mentioned the concept of fair use.
Fair use allows for certain usage of copyrighted material by third parties without the permission of the copyright holder.
The basic guiding principle is that when usage of copyrighted materials includes such uses as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, there is no infringement of copyright. These types of uses are allowed under the doctrine of fair use.
To determine if the use of copyrighted material is covered under fair use, there are four factors that must be examined. However, these factors are not static and there is fluidity in their application.
The purpose and character of the use. Basically, how is the copyrighted work used? Non-commercial use, teaching, and scholarship and the like receive more protection than commercial use. But simply because certain use is commercial in nature does not automatically violate the fair use doctrine.
The nature of the copyrighted worked. If, for instance, the work is non-fiction and the use involves the using of facts or statistics from the work, more latitude is given. Fiction gets more copyright protection than non-fiction because of the creative element in the process of creating fiction. However, simply because a work is fiction, does not mean that one cannot quote from it for comment or review. (Keep this in mind, we will be coming back to this.)
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