Copyright and Fair Use

Now, I’m proud of this post because not only are my friends the kind who would name this blog, they also are the ones who told me [paraphrased], “If you ever went to jail, it’d probably be for a weak crime like copyright infringement.”

Let’s fire up that Comm Law class real quick and remember the following:

To claim copyright, you must have printed material. So, a photo of Barack Obama taken by one of your staff’s photographers is certainly considered your property.

And what can you do with that?

1) Distribute;
2) Prepare any derived works;
3) Reproduce; or
4) Publically (a) perform or (b) display.

Also, you can sell the rights to do so.

Of course, if you can prove that an individual saw the work, then used it without permission and benefited financially, you can recover and get an injunction in place. That’s the course of action for correcting an infringement.

Some things fall outside of infringement, though. For example. the idea of Fair Use. You know, the one that kind of allows generations of American artists the freedom to take something and artistically reinterpret it. It’s covered by this statement in US Copyright Law [emphasis added by me in this case]:

The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

This comes up because the AP is actually trying to take it to Shepard Fairey over that whole poster that includes a similar pose of the original photo:


You want to talk about Social Media? Has there been anything more social in terms of political comment than this image over the last six months (that didn’t include Alaska, Russia or Tina Fey)? So, don’t go changing your Obamaicon yet. I’m looking forward to AP getting raked over the coals on this. (It’s already started at TechCrunch and FamousDC).

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One Comment on “Copyright and Fair Use”

  1. […] work but in fact infringing on the copyright. Countersuits started to fly, and as resolution is still sought on the copyright side of things between the artist and the AP, there was one other point of […]


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