Fair Use, Source Material & Derrivative Work Question

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  • Someone emailed me concerning an article I had written and posted on one of my websites. Their question led me to discover a typo/misspelling that inadvertently introduced a "new" but incorrect technical term in my original article.

    In reviewing the issue I found a number of folks who had basically copied, word-for-word, my work and posted it on their sites, on forums, and on blog comments.

    The error has also become something of a breadcrumb trail as I seem to have become the origination point for this "fact". Along with the 100% copies there are more than a few derivatives of my work being distributed online - identifiable due to the misspelling and quite often additional word-for-word phrasings and paragraphs lifted from my work.

    My question is how does one differentiate between an incorrect fact being used as source material and a copyright infringing derivative work? Does using even a single sentence of the original constitute infringement or is there a percentage/point where it rises to infringement? Does it matter if they included a great deal of my content and essentially doubled the article's length with additional material?

    Am I correct in my understanding that use of my "fact" alone does not constitute infringement as that would not be protected under copyright in the first place?

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