Fair Use question

@Aspenglow did the right thing by erring to the conservative on this one, but it did make me wonder:

Is it different for a government site than for a commercial site or ‘work?’

Could I have quoted the totality of this page (two paragraphs) … … without running afoul of Fair Use … based on the fact that it’s a Department of Justice page and therefore … maybe … in the public domain?


Just curious.

Please allow me to state that I have no idea at all about what is covered under fair use and what is not. I just figured it was better to exercise caution in this. I’m quite happy to restore it back as you initially posted it once the rule is clarified. You may well be right, @DavidNRockies.

And please allow me to reiterate that I totally support the decision you made.

Just my curiosity. I may very well be wrong :wink:

I do get that. Thanks. :slight_smile:

I’m probably going to find out I’m wrong, but I though .Gov stuff was indeed Public Domain.

It looks like it is pretty much accurate:
Copyright in U.S. Government Works - Copyrightlaws.com: Copyright courses and education in plain English.

LOL, no, you’re probably right!

ETA: I can see I should have asked in the mod loop before proceeding. I’m sure you’re right.

I think we’ve seen that as the SDMB came out of the News World, we’re overly careful on Copyright here. I think we’re suppose to err on the side of caution when not sure.

@What_Exit kinda beat me to it. Just adding that to claim fair use, the work in question must be copyrighted. Most countries don’t, so documents are considered public domain. This seems to be true for the U.S. as well. Scroll down the wiki to find U.S.

Generally speaking, we don’t want people copying entire web pages.

Part of this is fair use. One of the criteria for fair use is how much that you have copied compared to the length of the entire work. If you copy the entire work, that generally does not fall under fair use.

But part of it also has to do with the fact that this is a message board. We don’t want entire web pages copied here because that’s usually too much for anyone to read through. Copy small snippets to show what you are talking about, and link to the source for those who want the larger context. If you copy large amounts of text, you run into a TL/DR thing (too long, didn’t read).

I’m an engineer, not a copyright lawyer, but my understanding is that any work by the U.S. government is public domain, so fair use doesn’t necessarily apply here. But the copying of articles in general does, so keep it short and link to the full article.

In this case the article is only two paragraphs, but the first paragraph is fairly lengthy. It’s probably a bit of a judgement call, but my personal take on it is that it’s better to post a small snippet along with a link to the full article.

Thanks very much for the clarity, @engineer_comp_geek.

To all others:

Thanks for helping fight my ignorance today. :slight_smile:

Very long posts and quotes are also a good place to use the Hide Detail Tool found under the little Gear Icon.

Full Quote from ECG under this Detail tag as an example

I totally understand and thoroughly appreciate the nuances there.

Many thanks.

As I understand it, any work created by a US government employee in the course of his/her/its official duties cannot be copyrighted.

It’s undoubtedly different in other countries, as witness the “© Crown copyright” notices on British government sites.

This is kind of a tangent, but fair use makes me think of public domain, which is what my question is about.

If a song, for instance, is in the public domain, is any version of that song also considered public domain?

Suppose, hypothetically, that Beyoncé records a version of Happy Birthday, and I want to include it in a tv show I’m producing. Can I play her version of that song without having any permission from her? Do I legally owe her any royalties for doing so?

No. You can’t play her version without permission. While Beyoncé can’t copyright the words to Happy Birthday, she has a copyright in her performance of the song.

No. Performances are copyrighted.

You can have someone else record Happy Birthday and use it for your TV show, but you can’t use Beyonce’s version without her permission (or the permission of whoever owns the right to that performance).

Similarly, while video games and TV shows often use classical music because it is long out of copyright, they still have to either find a public domain performance of the piece or they have to pay someone to perform the piece so that they can use in their game or show.

This can lead to some complex issues. For example, if a bunch of friends get together and record a version of Happy Birthday, who owns that performance and who can sell it? Each individual performer has a right to their own performance. Or what if you hire someone to mimic Beyonce’s version of Happy Birthday? Well then you can run into trademark and brand confusion issues and you can be sued.

All of this is well outside of the scope of ATMB. Try FQ for the facts of copyright law or IMHO for legal opinions on specific situations.

There’s no need to start another thread on that tangent. My question was answered, and I’ll slink back into the shadows now with a thank you.