A note on Fair Use

It is my hope that this blog will serve to add some value to a number of ongoing debates of great interest to the public (meaning “stuff I care about.”).
In the process, I will often have occasion to quote a paper, article, web posting, subway ballad or graffito. When I need to do that, I intend to honor the law of copyright in every respect.
Part of that law is the exception carved out for those who use copyrighted material under the doctrine of “Fair Use.” Since these matters tend to get worked out among nations, I will use US law as an example. I will now quote the US Copyright Office on the four factors to be considered in determining if a given use of copyrighted material may be considered Fair Use, in a self-referential example of Fair Use:

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. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

There – as you, the perceptive reader, have noticed, my quote above was:
1. to illustrate the nature of Fair Use, without making any money,
2. by using a governmental publication intended for just that purpose,
3. but using only a small part of it,
4. and without endangering the profit potential of government publications.

This is relevant to the use I expect to make of (for example) excerpts or figures from technical articles. I will never reproduce a passage or a graphic unless I believe that its use, in context, is clearly a case of Fair Use. If you are the copyright holder, and you disagree, let me know and I will promptly remove it.

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