Legally work protected under the law of copyright cannot be used by anyone without the approval of the owner. There are still those who resort to plagiarism and end up as culprits of copyright infringement. Many are not aware that any matter placed under copyright protection can also be used within the legal norms by the tool of ‘fair use’.
This module of fair use has been elaborated in Section 107 of the Copyright Law of 1976. This section provides the regulations under which material placed under copyright can be used in a legal way. The primary aspect to be dealt upon while deciding about the correct utility of fair use is that one needs to evaluate the social or cultural benefit from the use in comparison to the damages endured by the copyright owner. Also, fair use should not be done for monetary gains. There should be an underlying larger cause benefiting the society as a whole. Fair use is immensely beneficial in the realms of education and journalism.
When it comes to fair use, you need to take into consideration four factors. These factors are how the work is going to be used, what is the type of work, what is the extent of the use and what economic repercussions the use will have. Usually these factors are taken into consideration in case there is a lawsuit on copyright infringement. For instance, a teacher in a classroom set up shows a video clipping highlighting the adverse effects of smoking. Thereafter, certain issues pertaining to tobacco smoking are taken up in the form of a class discussion. Not only are the ill effects on health discussed but also issues such as smoking in public places leading to passive smoking and air pollution are taken up. This entire lesson plan definitely falls under the correct legal utility of fair use. The reasons of fair use as per the ‘four factors’ can be justified. The nature of the use was to impart knowledge and create social awareness. The extent of use was adequate as only a single scenario was stressed upon in the video. The use was confined within the four walls of the classroom. Finally, the entire exercise resulted in no monetary obligations to the owner of the copyrights. In fact, it served a greater social cause.
It is not an easy task to comprehend the legalities attached to fair use as there are different regulations encompassing fair use in different walks of life. Therefore, advocates furnish guidelines to acquaint users with the regulations and prevent any inadvertent violation of copyright laws.