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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Copyright fair use policy ...
Why bother asking?

 8:26 am on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)


I am currently looking for websites who are willing to share their work on specific topic. I am aware about the fair use (US copyright policy) and I respect it (source name and link appear below every content which are not mine).

But many don't even reply to my email (time consuming). So my question, why bothering sending a request?
Isn't better to send an email informing the person that I am using some of their content and that if they do not want me to use their content, they should send a negative reply.

Do you think it is fair... I personnally think it is.




 9:11 am on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Lack of response can never be considered permission, but the statutory provisions on fair use are there to allow you to make fair use of a work without having to ask permission in the first place - because as you can imagine, some copyright holders may not want you to use any of their work, even though you are legally entitled to fair use. Never forget that copyright is a social bargain as a limited monopoly: designed to provide protection for works, but not so much protection that it impedes scientific and technological progress.

Your approach sounds good: send a polite letter stating that you are making fair use of their work, provide a url to the work, and state that if they have any concerns, to please make them known to you.


 9:51 am on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Be careful though. Fair use does not mean reproducing entire articles/pages from someone else's site. You can quote small portions as part of your own news reporting, critique, commentary, research, etc.

I can understand a large percentage not responding back to you. There are a lot of people who put up websites then expect others to help man it plus give them content with no compensation in return. If the other site cannot see a solid benefit for them in helping you then it's hit the old delete key. Once you build a good reputation and become more widely known, people won't be as quick to put you on ignore.


 10:15 am on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

It sounds good to me....
My plan is not to copy the entire content but just to link the viewer to the most pertinent site and show a part of this content.



 10:46 am on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Tomda, there are lots of reasons why you might not get a reply - "public" e-mails are often so spammed out that they aren't read at all, or get only a quick glance. Your request might have gotten forwarded to someone else. The recipient may have dismissed your request as out of the question and deleted it. Regardless, lack of a reply to an e-mail implies nothing at all IMO. A certified, return receipt letter proving delivery might be better, but even then I doubt if "no reply" gives you any legal rights.

I'd say your idea might be feasible only if your content use was minimal - a line or two from an article, a paragraph or two from a book, etc. Even then, some authors might argue about fair use.


 2:24 pm on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

(a) contract law is very clear on this: failure to receive a reply (even if the recipient has read the message, listened to the voicemail, or opened the letter) confers no meaning.

(b) fair use can be a problematic area: numerous legal disputes have centered on it, so you always need to be careful.

too much information

 2:43 pm on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

My typical strategy is to create the page but not link to it. Then in my request to use the content I can show them exactly how it will look, including the credit to them. I usually get a good response, and ocasionally a few comments.

I will tell you that this has resulted in some orphaned pages on my sites that are still waiting for permission or that the author turned out to be copying someone else's content. Then I have to take the time to hunt down the real author which can be time consuming.


 3:29 pm on Jan 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

My plan is not to copy the entire content but just to link the viewer to the most pertinent site and show a part of this content.

Fair use can be very, very tricky. There are only certain specific circumstances where it applies. Supplementing your site's content with somebody elses might not be one, no matter how much credit you give.

Read over the Copyright Office discussion of fair use at [copyright.gov...] Pay particular attention to the purposes it cites, "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research".

There's a whole big, murky gray area in here. If in doubt, get permission.

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