What is Fair Use?

As the holder of a copyright for a given work, you have the exclusive right to the use and reproduction of the work, as well as the right to license others to use or reproduce the work. However, there are limitations to this right, as Markoff Leinberger’s Chicago consumer rights lawyers well know. When it comes to copyright and trademark law, and cases one of the most important considerations is the fair use doctrine.

Under the 1976 Copyright Act, individuals without right to the reproduction of the work still have a right to “fair use,” which allows them to reference the work and reproduce (sometimes significant) portions of the work.

It’s important to understand that fair use is a tricky concept, and there are bright lines that a consumer rights lawyer can point to and say, “These were crossed, therefore fair use does not apply.” However, there are guidelines with which Markoff Leinberger is familiar. These include:

  • The purpose of the use: is it commercial or educational in nature?
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • How much of the work was used
  • How the use affects the marketability or profitability of the work

There are some easy examples of fair use that are cited by the Copyright Act, such as quotations from a work used in a review or critique, or parodies that take portions of the original work. However, most fair use claims are much more complicated.

Our Chicago consumer rights lawyers are familiar with the fair use doctrine and how it has developed. We are committed to helping you protect your copyright.

If you’re a resident of the Chicago, Illinois area and you need a consumer rights lawyer with experience in copyright and fair use cases, please contact Markoff Leinberger today for a free consultation. 


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