Copyright Infringement or "Fair Use"? Copyright law is clear.

Reblogger Chiara Petro
Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty - Angie Cody Team TN RE Lic# 323112

I love when Lenn writes about copyright issues. She's probably one of the few folks I've come across that "gets" the issue of copyright infringement. As a long-time crafter, the Fair Use doctrine was high on my radar, because it is simply not a clear-cut issue, and it has been wrongly interpreted by many. It is particularly important when creating patterns.


What I have learned over the years, is there are no defined rules on how much is too much, when copying someone else's work. Only exceprt enough to make your point. No more. This is particularly important when the original work is short.


One last point, I can't emphasize enough, is that Attribution is not permission. But, always, always give credit to the original author/creator of the work.


(comments turned off...please head over to Lenn's original post to make comments)

Original content by Lenn Harley 303829;0225082372

COPYRIGHT is back and, as always, our horizon expands. 

Disclaimer:  Keep in mind dear ActiveRain readers that I am not an attorney and my writings about copyright matters are purely a reflection of my own opinions.  Or, my articles about copyright reflect my experience over the past 7 years proceeding against competitors violating my registered copyrights.  

If I've learned one thing it is that copyright violators are either uninformed about the matter and have stumbled into a violation of the law, OR, they simply ignore copyright law and violate the copyright protections of others in the belief that

(1) no one will notice, or

(2) they can claim one of the exemptions to copyright.

"FAIR USE"  is one of the exemptions to the copyright protections extended to the owners of writings, works of art, photographs, etc, that violators use. 

Areas of consideration for the Fair Use exemption include:

    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work
    3. The amount and substantially of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

If an ActiveRain member considers the COPY AND PASTE of all or part of a writing, work of art or photograph created by another, the question is, since the original is copyrighted, WHAT IS THE EXEMPTION that conveys the right to use that content?


1.  Any post published to an ActiveRain member's blog is for commercial use.  ActiveRain is a commercial real estate network, not a charitable or educational network.   Member posts to their blog are advertising their services.

2.  Even of the ActiveRain member publishes an obscure photograph of a flower that the member did not create, once that post includes the member's identification and affiliation with a commercial enterprise, the post is commercial, even if the original photograph of a flower is not. 

3.  How much is too much?  The use of 40%, 70% or the often quoted 80% of an original writing probably does not constitute "Fair Use".  Fair Use is not an excuse for plagiarism.  Fair Use should benefit the creator of a work, not be used as an exemption to the copyright protections afforded the creator of a writing. Cash

4.  Fair Use, if used as an excuse for plagiarism, damages the creator of a writing, photograph or work of art.  The damage, especially if the owner of the copyright uses their copyrighted property in their business, is clearly monetary.  The penalties for copyright violations are monetary, beginning at $700 per us to about $30,000 per use. 


The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

NOTE:  As we've written many times, attribution is not permission.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use:

“quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”  Source:

Some key words in the above excerpt from include:

excerpts - the copy and paste of an entire or most of a published article from a newspaper, magazine, published article, is not an excerpt.

short passages - republishing all or most of an original writing is NOT using a short passage.

summary of an address or article - a republish is not a summary.

The ActiveRain guidelines are clear - Respect copyrights. Only upload content/images that you have the right to use (what you have paid for or own), and whose copyright rules allow for commercial use.

RIGHT:  If you didn't write it, photograph it, paint it, film it or other wise create it, DON'T USE IT.
  If it's on Google, it's public domain.

If you want to use the content, you should publish a short excerpt and LINK TO THE ORIGINAL.

For an interesting read about copyright litigation, see:


Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker,, Serving home buyers in MD and Northern Virginia.


Want to learn more about Loudoun County, VA? Join Loudoun County, VA on Facebook!


This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
ActiveRain Community

Spam prevention

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Chiara Petro

Your KEY to Home Sweet Home - Knoxville TN
Have a question about a home? Just ask!
Spam prevention

Additional Information