CYLG is a boutique Law Firm with a focus on complex commercial, real estate, and intellectual property litigation
CYLG is a progressive law firm that combines the innovation, agility, and personal attention of a boutique firm with the sophistication and high quality experience offered by large national firms. Indeed, our attorneys left nationally-recognized law firms to create an atmosphere of increased responsiveness, efficiency and a focus on result-based solutions to our clients’ evolving business and legal needs.
CYLG’s “client-first” philosophy is woven into everything we do. We utilize leading edge technology, alternative fee arrangements, and a collaborative team approach to each representation and project―all designed to streamline and enhance our ability to achieve the efficient and effective results our clients expect. We strive to add significant value to each client relationship we undertake and we believe that we succeed only when our clients achieve their respective goals.
Understanding Fair Use and the Intellectual Property Laws That Dictate Its Usage
Creativity is a unique concept, but one that rarely relies on unique ideas. For example, many video makers, songwriters, and other creative types use ideas from others to build new work, such as sampling a drumbeat to craft a song or reviewing copyrighted movie materials on YouTube. In Los Angeles and other areas, intellectual property laws define this type of material integration as fair use.
Therefore, it is vital for businesses with copyrighted information to understand these laws to ensure that they are protected. Grasping these laws also helps to prevent needless lawsuits and keeps the rights of creators safe. However, fair use does not create a free-for-all without consequence but is dictated by several guidelines that protect both the creatives and copyright holders.
What is Fair Use?
Fair use is a concept created to expand on copyright use. As an exemption, it allows people to use copyrighted material without paying any compensation. Intellectual property laws exist to avoid unnecessary lawsuits and protect the rights of creators who want to discuss copyrighted material and who don’t want to get impacted by aggressive litigation by those who hold the copyright.
Though fair use has been a legal term for many years, it has become a prominent topic of discussion in the modern internet era. YouTube creators and other video makers would struggle to thrive without fair use protection. Movie reviewers showing clips from the film would be liable to lawsuits if fair use didn’t grant them protection from needless and unnecessarily aggressive litigation.
That said, fair use is not a catch-all term that protects creators in every situation. The rights of copyright holders must still be protected. As a result, it is vital to understand how intellectual property laws define fair use. Doing so will make it easier for you to know when to pursue a case or whether you are crossing the line into copyright infringement with your creative endeavors.
The Traits That Define Fair Use
Laws define fair use by utilizing various guidelines that help creators and copyright holders specify the line that must be crossed for infringement. Understanding these concepts will make this process easier for all involved:
- Purpose and Character – Fair use will cover educational or non-profit use of copyrighted materials but won’t cover any attempt to compete directly with the copyright holder.
- The Nature of the Work – A review of a film that includes some clips from the movie is protected by fair use. A movie that steals clips from another and attempts to make money in this way is not covered.
- Amount and Substantiality – Fair use doesn’t allow creators to take too much of a work, nor does it allow the use of this material to impact the market of this work.
- Transformative Context – Placing copyrighted material in a new context may transform it enough to qualify for fair use, such as using copyrighted images to create a collage.
The complexity of the intellectual property laws and the unique creative endeavors that may transform copyrighted material often make this balance a tough one to achieve. As a result, it is vital to speak to a legal team if you believe your rights have been infringed in any way.
When to Pursue a Lawsuit
Are you experiencing copyright infringement disguised as fair use? It is often hard to tell because so much conflicting data exists supporting copyright holders and those claiming fair use. So if you want to pursue a lawsuit, it is critical to note the different times when this may be a wise choice. Typically, fair use is being compromised when:
- Too Much of the Material is Used – Creators who take too much from your work may be liable for a lawsuit. For example, if they play a significant portion of your theme song in their videos or quote your slogans directly in their marketing, they have crossed the line from fair use and into infringement. The exact line is often at the consideration of the court handling your state’s intellectual property laws.
- Minimal Changes are Made – Parodying your copyrighted material is covered by fair use unless too little of the material has changed. For example, suppose they parody your logo but use the same colors, fonts, and the same basic overall design or change only a few elements (including a single word). In that case, they are infringing on your copyright. This fact is particularly true if they attempt to compete with you as a business.
- Damages May Occur Due to Their Content – This factor is a little harder to gauge because defining potential damages is often challenging. At its core, this concept states that this fair use content cannot damage your brand or cause customers to move from your business to another by using your copyrighted material. If this level is crossed, fair use does not apply, and you can likely pursue a lawsuit.
- The Content is Non-Educational or For-Profit – If your copyrighted material is being used to make money or for reasons beyond education, your rights are being infringed. The line here is often very challenging to note for some. For example, YouTube users may get money from a Patreon account by using copyright material but may present their videos as educational and avoid a lawsuit.
If you find yourself financially affected by a violation of intellectual property rights, assemble a legal team and pursue compensation. A crew of high-quality lawyers will assess your situation and give you an idea of whether or not your case is valid. If they believe you have a chance, they’ll gather evidence that helps prove you are right and will fight to give you the best chance of winning.
Finding Your Legal Team
Fair use is still a confusing concept to many, as intellectual property laws are constantly undergoing adjustments. The purpose of those laws, in theory, is to protect those who are not infringing on copyright while also guarding the copyright of businesses. A good balance is necessary here, particularly in Los Angeles, where many creative endeavors are produced every year.
Do you worry about these laws or need help ensuring that your rights are protected? Then please reach out to us at CYLG PC right away to get the help that you need. Our team fully understands California laws and how they impact your copyright. We’ll ensure that your copyrights are safe and prevent financial difficulties that might otherwise impact your business.