Report: Copyright

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  Basics: Infringement and Fair Use

The rights of a copyright holder are infringed when one of the acts requiring the authorization of the owner is done by someone else without his consent. In the case of copyright infringement or the violation of neighboring rights the remedies for the copyright owner consist of civil redress. The unauthorized copying of protected works for commercial purposes and the unauthorized commercial dealing in copied material is usually referred to as "piracy".

Yet copyright laws also provide that the rights of copyright owners are subject to the doctrine of "fair use". That allows the reproduction and use of a work, notwithstanding the rights of the author, for limited purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, and research. Fair use may be described as the privilege to use the copyrighted material in a reasonable manner without the owner's consent. To determine whether a use is fair or not most copyright laws consider:

- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes (usually certain types of educational copying are allowed)

- the nature of the copyrighted work (mostly originals made for commercial reasons are less protected than their purely artistic counterparts)

- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work (as a general rule copying may be permitted if it is unlikely to cause economic harm to the original author)

Examples of activities that may be excused as fair use include: providing a quotation in a book review; distributing copies of a section of an article in class for educational purposes; and imitating a work for the purpose of parody or social commentary.

browse Report:
    Intellectual Property and the "Information Society" Metaphor
-3   Basics: Protected Persons
-2   Basics: Acquisition of Copyright
-1   Basics: Limitations
0   Basics: Infringement and Fair Use
+1   Legal Protection: National Legislation
+2   Legal Protection: Multilateral Agreements
+3   Legal Protection: WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Recent "Digital Copyright" Legislation: European Union