Intellectual Property Law
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what is fair use?
See Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107
Traditional Concept of Fair Use
Excuses reasonable unauthorized appropriations from a first work, when the use to which the second author put the appropriated material in some way advanced the public benefit, without substantially impairing the present or potential economic value of the first work.
Fair Use Example: If you wish to criticize a novelist, you can quote portions of such novelist's work without permission for such purpose.
UnFair Use Example: Coping the work of another for commercial purposes for your personal benefit is presumably unfair use. (but not always)
The issue is determined on a case by case basis using the four factors identified above and there is no bright line rule and such analysis is very subjective.
Thus, depending on fair use as one's only defense is very risky.
Wikipedia has a good article on Fair use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use
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