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About "Fair use" laws

US government guidelines



12:12 pm on Nov 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi everyone,

We know that the US government has set up certain guidelines under “Fair use” laws.. Could you please explicate those dos and donts stipulated in the name of “Fair use” laws? Does the law specify the number of phrases, and lines which can be safely lifted and will not be entitled to copyright issue?




1:22 pm on Nov 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Content theft is still theft, even with the deception of changing a few words around.

Content theft is still theft, whether you mention the source or not.

(Just in case you didn't see this in your other thread on the same topic)


3:44 pm on Nov 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Monalisa, the law does NOT specify the # of words and phrases you can use--one key principle of fair use is that what qualifies as fair use depends on more than one thing. There's no simple word-count rule.

What % of the work is used matters--and so one line of an 8-line poem might not be fair use, while one line of a 2,000 word article would be.

How you use the work matters too. An academic article might be able to use a lengthy quotation, if properly acknowledged, while a for-profit web site would only be able to use less.

You need to read up on fair use and attempt to understand the principles as they apply to your specific situation, not try to get a checklist from people here. There is no short cut. Go to resources like that on the US Copyright Office web site or the one maintained by Stanford to begin your reading.


5:40 pm on Nov 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

The Stanford site I mentioned: [fairuse.stanford.edu...]

But there is also information at the Copyright Office site. Just Google "fair use guidelines" and you will find some good resources.


5:36 am on Nov 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That Stanford link is good. However you need legal advice in this arena.

There is no magic # of words. In fact the Associated Press has tried to say that four words is fair use.. any more and you need to pay them.


3:24 pm on Nov 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member farmboy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

If you go to the "Fair Use" information on the US Government Copyright Office site, you'll find that there are two (at least) general principles that stand out.

One is that you should be contacting the copyright holder for permission to use the material. People who have less than honorable motives don't like this because they are pretty certain the owner won't grant permission for what they want to do.

If you contact the owner and don't get a response, you should make sure you save the email you sent to use in your defense later if necessary.

The other principle is that you should not copy so much material that the reader has no reason to visit the original source. In other words, you should whet the reader's appetite and then send the reader to the original which properly honors the original author's efforts.

If just those two principles were followed, 90% of the copyright theft on the web would be eliminated. But people who want to take other people's content instead of creating their own don't want to know about the above, they just want someone to tell them what they want to hear.



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