Fair Use Update - Creative Law Center

Fair Use Update

Fair Use: Changes You Need to Know Now [Live Workshop]

They say there’s nothing new under the sun.

Except that new works of written and visual art are being created every day. Often they’re created by incorporating work first created by someone else. And that’s fair.

But, but, but . . . copyright secures the right to copy to the original creator . . . right? Yes.

Except when it’s fair use. That’s when you can use the creative work of others in your own work without permission.

Fair use is designed to ensure that the rights of copyright holders are properly balanced with the a creative’s right to freedom of expression.

As an author or artist, you are ultimately responsible for making a judgment between needing permission or relying on fair use when using the work of others.

Sorting through when permission is needed and when it is not may seem daunting. Especially when there is so much bad information about fair use flying around the Internet, in writers’ groups, and in artists’ circles.

Bad information and myths from the obvious to the subtle, like:

  • If it is on the Internet, I can copy and use it.
  • I gave credit to the owner, I can use it.
  • If I’m not making money off of it, I can use it.
  • Fair use is too complicated. Only lawyers can figure it out.
  • I only used a little bit, so I’m safe.
  • Fair use is too risky — even if I’m right, I could get sued.
  • Fair use is just a defense, not a right.

You need to learn to blow past this bad information and be able to distinguish between when you need permission and when you can claim fair use.

Authors and publishers need to understand the difference between images used for marketing and images used in the interior of a book.

Publishers who require permission in every instance risk stifling creative expression.

But how do you incorporate the distinctive features or dominant ideas you see or read elsewhere without stepping on the rights of others?

The test is to see whether your work is just a substitute for the original work or “instead adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning, or message; it asks, in other words, whether and to what extent the new work is “transformative.””

But it’s not just about slapping your style on someone else’s creative work and calling it transformative.

In this workshop, you will learn how to make a fair use assessment so you can feel confident creating new original work from inspiration, not copying.

You will learn how to tell the story of your work in a way that reveals true transformative intent.

You will discover the tools and resources available to demystify the fair use analysis specific to your creative work.

By exploring recent cases in the news, you will develop an understanding of what is not fair use in a way that will advance your own originality and creativity.

This workshop is being offered as a stand alone opportunity. You do not have to be a member of the Creative Law Center to attend it (members will have access, of course, and need not purchase the workshop separately). You’ll get an email with the Zoom link for Wednesday, December 15 at 1 p.m., EST once you sign up. You will have lifetime access to the replay.

This is a live, interactive workshop using Zoom. You will be able to ask questions in real time, so bring your list.

Being able to articulate how fair use applies in your work is a skill you need to do your creative job. Join us and add this tool to your tool box.

About the Author

Kathryn Goldman helps small business people, writers, artists, and creative professionals make a living from their creative work by teaching them how to protect and enforce their rights. She is an attorney who writes these posts to help you be more thoughtful about intellectual property and the law as you build your business, write your stories, and create your art.