Journalist's Guide

(2) What is the nature of the copyrighted work? The copyright of highly factual material, such as listing of historical facts, is less easily infringed on than the more creative work. (3) How much of the copyrighted work is used? No more of the original may be used than is reasonably necessary. (4) What is the potential effect of the use on the market for the original? A use may make money, but it is probably not fair if consumers are willing to accept the use in lieu of the original.

In cases of a “parody,” a modified fair use analysis applies. A court will also ask whether readers, viewers or listeners will understand the work as a parody and whether the use exceeded that which was necessary to “conjure up” recognition of the original.

Works existing on the internet or provided digitally through software or apps are protectable by copyright law. Just because a work is readily available or created and made available by individual citizens does not diminish the right of the author to control use of the work. Often a website or other source of materials, or the site or app through which the work is posted, will include the terms under which work can be used. Since March 1, 1989, it is not necessary for a creator to label works with a copyright symbol (e.g., ©, year, and name), nor to formally register work with the U.S. Copyright Office to obtain the copyright protections of federal and international law. Copyright exists simply upon creation. Copyright is easier to prove and protect, though, if notice is given and registration made.

Copyright law is contained in Title 17 of the United States Code.


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