What is Fair Use?
As the Internet matures, users and
governments are struggling to manage controversial
issues. Lets face it, the Internet did not exist
when the US copyright laws were written;let us
not forget, while many countries respect copyright
laws, the Internet is global without a governing
body. There are not only different laws, rules
and regulations, but also jurisdiction issues.
RSS didn't exist when copyright laws were written
either. While ardent supporters feel any content
in a feed can be syndicated, other equally fervent
publishers contend that original works are just
that--original works, and in many countries protected
by copyright laws.
Much of the Internet is uncharted
territory. There is no single agencies that has
complete control over content or censorship, and
it is unlikely that there will ever be a recognized
body that regulates and agrees to terms and conditions
to govern the online world. At this point, the
location of webhosts and companies owning domains
dictate what laws that are observed. In other
words, if a company in the US or UK is violating
a copyright and their host is in the US or UK,
it will be easy to enforce copyright laws in the
event of a violation and have the website content
pulled. If the website is located on a server
in a region that does not recognize or acknowledge
the rights of a copyright holder, the web host
will be less likely to cooperate in removing the
Regardless of whether you manage
an RSS feed or syndicate existing feeds, it is
a good idea to become familiar with what constitutes
fair use under copyright laws. Fair use allows
portions of copy written material to be reproduced
or republished without the consent or permission
from the copyright holder.
Determining protection can be complex.
Fair use is often disputed, and it is difficult
for legal scholars to understand, and even more
difficult for publishers to decipher. When determining
fair use there are a few questions that help determine
whether a copyright violation has occurred. The
questions you should ask are:
Is the work protected?
How much material is copied?
What is the nature of the work that was copied?
Is the individual reproducing the work profiting?
How was the original works affected by being copied?
When attempting to determine copyright
protection, it is important to remember that the
US copyright law does not require a notice to
appear in order for creative works to be protected.
The fact that the work is unique and is "created"
is enough to ensure protection.
Not surprisingly, creative works
that contain a higher level of complexity have
a higher degree of protection. The fair use doctrine
is part of US copyright law and it allows for
publishers to incorporate some copyrighted material
into works without the expressed permission of
the copyright holder.
Resources on Copyright:
Copyright Debate: http://www.small-business-software.net/the-copyright-debate.htm
Keep in mind that fair use is based
on the belief that the general public and media
are entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted
materials. The fair use extends to commentary
on the creative works, criticism of creative works,
or even the creation of a parody that relates
to the copyrighted material. Understanding the
intent of the copyright laws help publishers interpret
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS
feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages
marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net
a wireless text messaging software company.