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What does "fair use" mean?

Whether you are actively involved in the intellectual property business or your closest association with a copyright involves creating a logo and slogan for your company, you have most likely been involved with copyright law to some degree.

Therefore, you understand that the rights to intellectual property belong to the creator or company the work originated from. Fair use law also involves copyrighted material, but this area can be confusing for Georgia business owners.

    You already know that a business owner or company could face litigation for using copyrighted material without the owner's permission - for example, a new business appropriating a certain mouse ear-themed logo that is well-known around the world and passing it off as its own.

    However, as FindLaw explains, fair use law allows the use of copyrighted material in certain circumstances. These include the following:

    • Using or reprinting a portion of the copyrighted work for educational purposes, such as printing passages of a novel for a class assignment
    • Quoting copyrighted work for news reporting or criticism, such as citing lines from a movie script for a review column
    • Distributing or reprinting a portion of the work for research purposes
    • Creating a parody of the work

    The legal system interprets fair use law broadly, and as such, judges handle copyright lawsuits with a fair use claim on a case-by-case basis. As you may imagine, an entertainer who bases his career on humor might risk a copyright claim for parodying a song without the owner's permission, although technically performers do not need permission for a deliberate work of parody.

    The ambiguous nature of fair use claims makes it necessary for you to use discretion if you wish to use a part of copyrighted work for your business purposes. 

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