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Fair Use is a very grey area and this is on purpose. Here is a list of four criteria in determining Fair Use.
- The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
- The nature of the copyrighted work
- The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
- The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The easiest way to ensure you aren't breaking copyright is to simply get permission to use it.
If you are using it to comment, criticize, or parody the work, it falls under fair use.
Not Fair Use:
- Using an image from google for your blog or post
- Using/posting clips of or entire videos/shows/movies to YouTube (unless it is a short clip including your commentary about said clip.)
- Rewriting song lyrics or "sampling" for a non-parody
- Quoting all/most of a news story
Remember that every country has it's own version of Fair Use. The version you should use is the version from the country of the works origin.
Things that do not make something Fair Use:
- Religious or Non-Profit Use
- Out of Print
- The date of the work
- Personal Use
Digital Millennium Copyright Act : 1998
This law was added in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. It has a great deal to say about and to website owners.
Title I: WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act
Criminalizes the creation or production of technologies that circumvents technological protections.
Title II: Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act
Requirements for service providers to follow to be safe from prosecution for copyright infringement by their users.
Title III: Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act
This act allows for the making of copies of copyrighted material in the process of backing up data storage while making repairs or doing maintenance.
Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions
Provisions relating to various topics including: Exceptions for Ephemeral recordings, Distance Education, streaming sound recordings, and exceptions for libraries.
Title V: Vessel Hull Design Protection Act
Yes, they included a copyright protection for the design and shape of boat hulls but only for boats that are under 200 feet in length.
Concerning works that have a copyright notice:
- Works published in 1978 or later (including today) — life of the original creator plus 70 years. For anonymous works, 120 years from the date of creation or 90 years from the date publication, whichever is shorter.
- Works published between 1964 and 1977 — 95 years from the date of publication.
- Works published between 1923 and 1963 — 28 years from date of publication unless it was renewed, then 95 years.
- Works published before 1923 are no longer protected by copyright and are in the public domain.
Concerning works without a copyright notice:
- Works published from March 1, 1989 - life of the original creator plus 70 years. For anonymous works, 120 years from the date of creation or 90 years from the date publication, whichever is shorter.
- Works published between January 1, 1978 and March 1, 1989 - covered the same as later works but only if the work was registered "before or within five years of publication and by adding the notice to copies published in the United States after discovery of the omission."
- Works published before 1978 without a copyright notice are generally in the public domain.