In a post that was reviewed by legal counsel for both sides, Andy Baio tells the story, the long and short of it, on his blog, Waxy:
Last year, I was threatened with a lawsuit over the pixel art album cover for Kind of Bloop. Despite my firm belief that I was legally in the right, I settled out of court to cut my losses. This ordeal was very nerve-wracking for me and my family, and I’ve had trouble writing about it publicly until now.
Andy Baio notes:
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about “fair use” on the Internet. Everyone thinks they know what fair use is, but not even attorneys, judges, and juries can agree on a clear definition. The doctrine itself, first introduced in the 1976 Copyright Act, is frustratingly vague and continually being reinterpreted.
Four main factors come into play:
- The purpose and character of your use: Was the material transformed into something new or copied verbatim? Also, was it for commercial or educational use?
- The nature of the copyrighted work
- The amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
- The effect of the use upon the potential market
For each case, courts take these factors into account and render a verdict, occasionally contradicting the opinions of past judges and juries.
So, what do you think?