Law of Fair Use

Law of Fair Use

Copyright Infringement

In today’s era, it has been difficult for the owners of intellectual property to protect their work in the digital world of the internet. That is, their works have been landing in the hands of other people without their consent. The advancement of technology has evolved giving people the ability to steal private property without permission from the owner. Examples of properties that are taken include books, films, music, works of arts and among other works. This action is referred to as copyright infringement, and there are legal recourses that are taken against the offenders. However, in particular situations, an individual can claim fair use and access the copyrighted materials (Bently, & Sherman, 2014). The Authors Guild versus Google case is an excellent example to explain the fair use.

Authors Guild versus Google Case

In 2004, Google engaged in to contract with few research libraries with the aim of scanning and digitizing the libraries books and other forms of writings such as projects that were recognized as the library project (Bently, & Sherman, 2014). Over 12 million books were scanned, and digitized were digitized in eight years. An electronic database was also created during that time for all those libraries that entered in to agreement Google. Both the Google public known as Google books an online database and digital libraries made all books searchable through phrases or keywords. The results of the search include snippets from the book and the summary of the text around the inserted phrase or word.

In 2015, the Authors guild represented the three authors who were the plaintiffs in the case where they had filed petitioned for the writ of certiorari with the supreme court of the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs were requesting the court to review the second circuit’s decision that was made previously in the favor the GoogleCompany. However, the Supreme Court denied the petition of writ of certiorari similarly to the second circuit judgment.

Fair Use

The Supreme Court based its judgment on several factors. The first factor is the purpose and the character of use which was concerned with whether the application was for commercial purposes or was for nonprofit educational purposes (Butler, 2015). In this instance, it is essential to bear in mind that such materials are a source of knowledge to the public. Therefore, when a person uses the materials for non-profit purposes such as educating, he or she should not be penalized by the court. The second factor which was applied was the nature of the copyrighted work.In this case, the court realized that the materials were made public where everybody could easily access the information. The court would, however, view the action as an infringement of rights of ownership if the documents were confidential or unpolished. In addition to this factor, the court also evaluated whether the copyrighted work was either factual or fictional in that, the creative works are more protected than informational works. Examples of informational works include reports which lend themselves readily to productive use of the others.

The third factor to consider is the amount and sustainability of the portion used in connection to the whole copyrighted work. In this factor, the court determines both quantity and the quality sustainability of the copyrighted work (Sites, 2015).  The last factor that should be considered is the effect of the use upon the potential and actual market for the copyrighted work. In this factor, the court is supposed to make judgment according to the damage caused by the copyrighted work.


Bently, L., & Sherman, B. (2014). Intellectual property law. Oxford University Press, USA.

Butler, B. (2015). Transformative teaching and educational fair use after Georgia State. Conn. L. Rev.48, 473.

Sites, B. (2015). Fair Use and the New Transformative. Colum. JL & Arts39, 513.

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