The Fair Use Doctrine

Copyright owners have the right to grant the authority to otheres to use their work and they can transfer their rights usually on a sale.  A valid must have “consideration” or value.  Under the Copyright Doctrine Title 17, U.S. code there is a limitation called the “Fair Use Doctrine.

You can read the USPTO version of explanation on the Fair Use Doctrine.  The right to reporduce is one of the most important rights in the field of documentary making, journalism, news reporting and  public domain.

Definition of Public Domain – Public Domain, “PD” generally refers to work that is ineligible for copyright.

Sometimes the rights have expired and other times the rights have beeen donated for Fair Use.  This distinction is not always clearly defined and recently Congress has expanded the rights of the Fair Use Doctrine.

Examples of Work that Falls Under Public Domain

  • Work that has been donated “free of copyright.”
  • For the purpose of educating the public.
  • For the purpose of publice criticism and praise.
  • For “public interest” even for broadcast and for revenue.

Examples of Work that May Fall Under the Fair Use Doctrine

  • Work that may display only a small part of the copyright so as to not infringe upon the revenue or rights of the copyright ower.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work, such as nonfiction or history or true crime told for public interest.
  • Use by non-profit organizations.
  • The affect of the use upon the audience that views the work.

If you are not sure about the status of the work you are using for a docmentary, news report or journalistic article, you should consult your attorney.

What happens if I infringe?

Several things can happen.  You could be sued for copyright infringement or defammation.  If you are lucky you might just take the work down.  With so much social media it is becoming easier and easier to become “infringed.”  The laws still define tje policies and you are still responsible as a writer, producer or artist.

The Business of Writing

The Challenges of International Public Domain

The Art of Storytelling Storytelling

The Fair Use Doctrine

Non Disclosure Agreements

Quit Claim Agreements

Turnaround Agreements

Life Story Rights


The Law of Logic

Writing Diversity or Speciality

Character Development

Writers Created or Born?

Words Meet Design

Creative Writing Critique

Screenwriting Construction