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Quoting Otherís Blogs Involves Copyright Considerations

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Author: David Alden Erikson

You might want to watch what you copy from other's blogs. The material is copyrighted and you'd be in a bit of a pickle.

So, you just finished reading a great blog on trade dress law and you want to quote it. Is that OK to do? Well, the short answer to that question is yes, short quotes are not usually thought to be copyright infringement because they are considered to be fair use. That basically means if you are criticizing or offering a comment about what someone else has slapped up on their blog, you've got what is referred to as fair use right to quote.

It's even better if you take the time to use the material you want to use in a transformative manner - a lovely legal word that means the courts like it when you transform the original comment/post into something else such as praise, commentary or criticism. If you are commenting on a passage, you can generally copy and paste.

So the whole deal boils down to what fair use is in the long run. If you hunt that down and read it in the Copyright Act, it states that fair use "for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research is not an infringement of copyright." That's about as clear as mud and really, if you get right down to brass tacks, there is no one definitive rule that applies for fair use. Even the courts have a time of it, but do tend to follow four factors when considering cases like this.

Those four factors have to do with the character/purpose of the use, the nature of the work, the amount of the portion used, and the affect on the market/potential market. These factors tend to vary from case to case, and trying to second guess just what is acceptable to copy is guaranteed to give you a massive headache.

On the other hand, you may freely copy federal government documents. Although we're not quite sure why anyone would want to, since reading them is usually an exercise in confusion. Nonetheless, any materials produced by the US government are in the public domain. You may also report facts and ideas in someone else's website or article, but "not" the expression. The expression is copyrighted and encompasses the particular combination of words and structure that make the material what it is.

About the author: To learn more about David Alden Erikson, Attorney at Law, visit Mr. Erikson specializes in Los Angeles fashion law, internet law, business litigation, trademark and copyright law.

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