What are the four fair use factors?

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Copyright Law

When a person claims fair use over copyrighted material, the matter might make its way to court. In this case, the judge will utilize four fair use factors to determine whether the claim has merit.

While essential in a court of law, individuals should also understand fair use factors. By gaining a greater understanding of the following factors, you can determine whether another party has used your copyrighted material incorrectly.

Purpose and character

This factor determines whether the new work adds value to the original material. In the case of parodies, the person parodying the original work will hopefully provide greater value by attaching humor to the material. Issues arise when original works are merely copied, with no new value added.

Nature of the copyrighted work

Courts are more accepting of fair use works that use factual materials for inspiration. That is because these works contain facts that may offer some value to the public. Similarly, published works are more amenable to fair use than unpublished, as the original creator gets to make decisions regarding the first appearance of the material.

Portion of the work taken

People claiming fair use often experience issues when they source a great amount of content from the original work. By the same token, taking the core principles from the work can also lead to legal issues. However, it depends on the goals of the new work, as parodies can justify taking large amounts of substantial material.

The effect of the use

Finally, the court will consider whether the new work takes income away from the creator of the original. Additionally, it does not matter if the creator ever intended to earn an income in the same manner as the person claiming fair use.

A better understanding of fair use laws can help you safeguard original works. It can also help you pursue legal action if someone applies fair use incorrectly.