• Search
    Generic filters
    Exact matches only
    Filter by Custom Post Type

What is “fair use” under US copyright law?

Copyright is the right of authors to control the use of their work for a limited period of time. In order to qualify for copyright protection, a work must be “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” A work must be the result of some creative effort on the part of its author in order to qualify for copyright protection. For works first published after March 1, 1989, an author need not include a copyright notice to gain protection under the law. However, although a notice is not required, it’s helpful if you obtain one. When a work contains a valid copyright notice, an infringer cannot claim in court that s/he wasn’t aware the work was copyrighted. Thus, an author has a greater chance to win a copyright infringement case and spend much less litigating in the process if s/he has a copyright notice.

If a work is created on or after January 1, 1978 then it is protected for a term of the life of the author plus 70 years. However, if the work is a work for hire or is published under a pseudonym, the copyright lasts between 95 and 120 years, depending on the date the work is published.

If you want to take a look at the informational pamphlet on copyright protection provided by the United States Copyright Office, click here. Alternatively, Stanford University maintains a comprehensive copyright/fair use website that will provide you endless information to help you decide if copyright protection is the right route for your product.

Protected Works

A work becomes copyrighted when it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. There are categories of work that fall under this definition:

Literary works
Musical works, including the accompanying words
Dramatic works, including the accompanying music
Pantomimes and choreographic works
Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
Sound recordings
Computer software
Architectural works

Not copyrightable

Works not fixed in a tangible form of expression (ex. something said but not recorded)
Ideas, methods, principles and systems
Titles, names, and slogans
Works found in the public domain
Works that are strictly informational and contain no authorship

If you’re looking for an affordable copyright attorney, check out LawTrades. LawTrades was established to meet these needs by providing fast, effective and economical solutions. Hope that clears things up a bit. Feel free to message me directly to chat further about any other IP questions that you face.