Fair Use and blogging

(This is the first in a series of posts on Fair Use and blogging)

Many bloggers, including me until I researched it, assume “Fair Use” means you can quote freely from any news source on your blog without fear of copyright infringement. Sorry to pop the bubble, but this just ain’t so.

Short quotations are generally considered fair use. Adding your own thoughts and comments is “transformative”, and thus aids in having it considered fair use. So is doing a parody of the quoted text. Satire, though, isn’t treated the same as parody because it’s not transformative.

Confused? Me too. There are no clear guidelines, no absolute way to judge. The most important criteria is the effect on the market. If by copying the text you decrease its current or future market value, then it probably isn’t fair use. For example, if you extensively quote from an article that someone was paid to write, and it can be shown they lost income because no one wanted to pay to re-publish it after that, then they could have grounds to recover that income.

A few guidelines.

Keep the quotes brief.
Add your own thoughts and comments.
Always provide a link back to the original article.
Try paraphrasing, maybe you don’t need to quote.