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What’s fair about the use of your intellectual property?

When you execute your original ideas, you likely depend on intellectual property laws to prohibit unauthorized use. However, under specific circumstances, fair use could allow others the opportunity to benefit from your copyright-protected work.

Specific situations may merit unlicensed use of your copyrighted material for others’ expression. Qualifying use may include news reporting, research and education. If you question your intellectual property (IP) rights, you should consider the factors used in evaluating fair use.

What determines fair use?

Depending on the involved circumstances, a court may consider variable factors in IP protection. However, the general guidelines related to fair use include:

  • Value. A court will assess both the current market value and potential value of your copyrighted work to determine the damage in which unlicensed use may result.
  • Creativity. The extent of your imagination could factor into a court’s opinion. Therefore, unauthorized use of works indicative of your creative impulse, such as a song, movie or book, may not be fair – especially if you have yet to get it published.
  • Amount. The quantity used may also be a consideration in determining fair use, in addition to the importance of the amount involved.

In a country based on a system free enterprise, IP protection is imperative in protecting your rights to use, promote, manufacture or reproduce the original thoughts you choose to bring to fruition. Therefore, if you believe someone’s unauthorized use of your work was unfair or violated your rights, you may want to take action.

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