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Copyrights: Why Fair Use Matters


If you follow Australian government or are interested in filing for copyright abroad, you've probably noticed a lot of recent discussion on fair use. But what does it mean?

Fair use, in regards to copyright means: Any sort of copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose. Examples are copying in order to comment upon, criticize, or create a parody of a copyrighted work. Under fair use, such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. It acts as a defense against a claim of copyright infringement.

So why does this matter to you?

Fair Use is often utilized to protect an individual. A university student quoting a famous literary work for example, or an up-and-coming music group re-working a famous lyric or image. As long as it's done properly, without hurting the original copyright holder, the use will protect you and will not result in an excesive monetary loss.

If you are interested in filing for copyright protection, keep these points in mind:

  • When the infringer cannot prove fair use - for example, that college student used an entire page from your literary work for their published college essay, registration is required prior to filing suit. Although copyright protection exists from the moment a work is created, enforcing the rights requires that the work be registered before the Courts will hear a case.
  • Statutory damages. Copyright law provides for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, but only if the copyright was registered prior to the infringement and within 90 days of the work’s first publication.
  • In commercial use, registered copyright of materials or methods deters competitors from using the work you've created for their own benefit.

More on the Australian Copyright Landscape

 If you'd like to learn more on what's happening with Australian copyright laws at the moment, please read the Harvard blog series: Fair Use Week 2016 


The materials in this blog are not for the purpose of providing legal advice and are provided for informational purposes only. By using this site you are not entering into an attorney-client relationship with MU Patents. If you need legal advice you should contact an attorney directly. 


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