When dealing with copyrighted material, there is often confusion on the boundaries of fair use. Business owners in New York may find it difficult to know whether they will be breaking the law by using certain material. Further, the state can have differing rules from those of the federal government. To help bring clarity to copyright fair use information, this article will provide answers to the most commonly asked questions.

What is Copyright Law?

Copyright Law is a federal statute, also known as the Copyright Act, which protects original works of authorship. Copyright protects works such as music, films, paintings, photographs, and sound recordings. Copyright Law does not protect ideas, only the expression of those ideas.

What is Fair Use?

The Copyright Act allows for certain uses of copyright protected materials to be made without permission by granting an affirmative defense of Fair Use. If the infringement or use is found to be fair then the copyright owner cannot bring an action against the person or business using the material. Fair Use under the Copyright Act may be found for the purposes of criticizing, commenting, teaching, news reporting, scholarship, or research.

What is considered Fair Use in New York?

The fair use doctrine, as contained in the Copyright Act, remains the same as it does across the United States. However, the interpretation of the fair use doctrine can vary from state to state and from case to case. It is important to understand any local precedents when evaluating fair use in New York.

How is Fair Use Determined?

Fair use in the Copyright Act is based on four factors:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether it is for commercial or noncommercial purposes.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work.

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the work as a whole.

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The relative importance of each factor is determined on a case-by-case basis, but all must be considered. By weighing all these factors, a court can determine whether or not a particular use falls under the fair use defense.

When Should I Contact a Copyright Lawyer?

It is always best to consult a copyright lawyer if there is concern that your proposed use of copyrighted material could be in infringement of the copyright laws. A copyright lawyer can provide specific advice on how to use the material legally. When seeking legal counsel, it is important to select a lawyer with experience in the legal and practical aspects of copyright law. UpCounsel is a great resource for small business owners in need of legal counsel as it provides access to experienced attorneys on demand.


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