Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fair or Foul? New Index Provides Fair Use Case Results

Recently, the United States Copyright Office created a new resource for researching fair use opinions in the federal courts. The U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index provides a list of over 170 U.S. Supreme Court, circuit courts of appeal, and federal district court opinions that have made a ruling relating to the fair use doctrine.  Although the list is not exhaustive, the index includes a broad selection of cases. “The goal of the Index is to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public by presenting a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use . . .”

U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index
U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index

The Index may be searched by circuit or limited to U.S. Supreme Court opinions. Moreover, the Index can be filtered by category, such as Parody/Satire, Music, Internet/Digitization, News reporting, or Education/Scholarship/Research. The results are formatted into a table which includes the case name and citation, the year of decision, the court and jurisdiction, relevant categories, and the outcome. While this Index does not offer full text of the opinions, the case citation also hyperlinks to a summary of the key facts, issues, holding, and the outcome. Overall, this a great tool to quickly find case law relating to specific fair use issues as well as the ways various courts interpret the fair use balancing test.

Of course, there are many useful fair use resources besides the Fair Use Index. For instance, the UW Library Guide on Ethical Use & Copyright connects to the Fair Use Checklist created by Columbia University and Cornell’s Fair Use Analysis Checklist. The American Library Association also has a Fair Use webpage, which includes a fair use evaluation tool. Additionally, Stanford's Copyright & Fair Use website provides summaries of case opinions, copyright legislation and regulation, and articles and blogs related to copyright and the fair use exception. Combining these resources with the Fair Use Index will help keep you up to speed in this complex and continually evolving area of law!

Hat tip to Patent Arcade.

U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index photo courtesy of:

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