Fair Use

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  • Does whether a work has been paid for or is free affect the interpretation of Fair Use? I'm in real estate investment & want to use some charts from a report I purchased to deliver a seminar.
  • Twomnms,

    It sounds like you want to use some charts from a report that you purchased to deliver a seminar, and you are wondering if your use would constitute a Fair Use under US Copyright law.

    Copyright law requires that you evaluate your proposed use on the basis of four factors that judges consider in Fair Use decisions :

    •the purpose and character of your use
    •the nature of the copyrighted work
    •the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
    •the effect of the use upon the potential market.

    You need to consider ALL FOUR FACTORS in your decision. Using one of the popular Fair Use evaluation tools, such as the Fair Use Checklist developed by Crews and Buttler, will help guide you through the process. http://copyright.columbia.edu/copyright/fair-use/fair-use-checklist/

    The fact that you are copying multiple charts from a purchased work would fall under the second, third, and fourth factors. Fair Use generally applies when your use benefits society more than it harms the copyright owner.

    So, for example, if you are reproducing these charts in a presentation for which you are charging money and earning a profit, that use would weigh differently in a Fair use evaluation than if you are showing them in a public service program offered at no charge at the local community college. In either case you would have purchased the original work, but how you would be using it differs considerably.

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