Monday, June 1, 2009

Focus On: Copyrights and Fair Use

Under the Law of Copyright (Royal Decree 65 of 2008), it is necessary to obtain the permission of a copyright owner in order to use, copy, publish, or broadcast a copyrighted work such as a book or audio recording. However, the Copyright Law does provide certain narrow exceptions to this rule which permit the use of a copyrighted work without the author’s permission.

For example, in the following circumstances it is permissible to use the copyrighted work without the owner’s permission:

  1. Individuals may quote from a publicly available copyrighted work for clarification, explanation, or criticism purposes but only to the extent necessary for the clarification, explanation, or criticism;

  2. Educational institutions may use a copyrighted work for clarification purposes during face-to-face instruction, but only to the extent necessary for the clarification and also provided there is no direct or indirect compensation;

  3. Public libraries, educational establishments, and scientific and cultural institutions may make a single copy of a published article or short work for study or research, provided there is no purpose of direct or indirect financial gain.
Although the above uses are permitted without the owner’s permission, the user of the copyrighted work must still mention the source of the work and the author’s name. Further, the above uses are permitted only if they do not conflict with the copyright owner’s normal exploitation of the work.