Fair Use Week – what is it and why is it important to you?

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Are you an artist, a professor, or writer? Do you incorporate outside design work into your own to make it unique? That’s legal thanks to the doctrine of fair use, or the copyright laws that make transformative works legal.

Basically, fair use doctrines are exceptions to the copyright law. Because “fair use” is highly subjective, each case needs to be carefully weighted. Stanford University Libraries lists a handful of interesting fair use cases and their outcomes. Below summarizes one of the more contested cases. What do you think?

The painter, Richard Prince, created a collage using — in one collage — 35 images from a photographer’s book. The artist also used 28 of the photos in 29 additional paintings. In some instances the full photograph was used while in others, only the main subject of the photo was used. Important Factors. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that to qualify as a transformative use, Prince’s work did not have to comment on the original photographer’s work (or on popular culture). The Court of Appeals concluded that twenty-five of Prince’s artworks qualified as fair use and remanded the case to determine the status of the remaining five artworks. Cariou v. Prince,  No. 11-1197 (2d Cir. 2013) VERDICT: FAIR USE

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