Andy Baio vs. Jay Maisel: The idea of fair use

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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:

  1. 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?
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. 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?


Written by dominiquejames

June 23, 2011 at 2:06 PM

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