Ultimately what is considered "fair usage" or not is a judgement call on the part
of the courts in the event a (legal) dispute arises.
The following factors are considered (hope nobody sues me for quoting US
copyright law <g>):
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A [17 USC
sects 106, 106A] the fair use of a copyrighted work, including
such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any
other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism,
comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom
use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In
determining whether the use made of a work in any
particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether
such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in
relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or
value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a
finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration
of all the above factors.
Keep in mind that whether an item is deemed "fair use" or not, the very process
of going to court etc. is expensive and damaging even if the defense succeeds.
There are some instances where it would clearly be ridiculous for anyone to
object to your usage: for instance, quoting something short and quotable to a
newsgroup for informative purposes -- only someone crazy would get upset over
that, and would undoubtedly lose in court. Whenever things are less clear-cut,
it's never a bad idea to ask for permission. Promotes goodwill, keeps you out
of court, and you might get to meet and know people worth quoting : )
Francois H. Villebrod wrote:
> I had in mind asking about quotes. For example I find a few comments of
> folks on Typo-L quite interesting and would like to write short excerpts
> of them on my site -as quotes and with always reference to the author
> and source- inside articles of mine. I believe this falls under "fair
> use". Am I correct, or do I have to ask permission in this case too?