In some situations, you may find yourself loosely copying someone else's work without asking permission.
Is that lawful? In many cases, yes.
The law recognizes certain uses as "fair." The fair use rule of copyright law permits some use of others' work without getting prior approval, though it is recommended that you cite the work appropriately.
Here is a scenario:
You are building a consumer opinion Web site for a client and find a great editorial from the local paper you would like to excerpt to spice up the content.
Is it legally acceptable for you to go ahead and do so?
But be alert; indiscriminately copying another person's work, even if it's only a small amount, is not always legal.
The law is fairly clear about what is appropriate fair use:
Following is a real-world example of violating fair use:
An online music firm indexes a popular rock group's music catalog, without their permission, to be copied and swapped by its members.
The courts rule this violates fair use and is copyright infringement. It orders the music firm to immediately stop this unlawful activity.
Some use of others' work is approved by implication.
For example, forwarding and archiving email messages posted to a public email list, as long as the original meaning has not been changed. Some Web sites that contain sensitive material may request that users who post material to
the site give their approval for the site to forward their email. There are no formal rules that monitor this activity.
In the next lesson, how to use an expressed license will be discussed.