A Resource For Understanding Federal Copyright As It Applies to the Internet
Limitations on Copyrights


Briefly reviews traditional "fair use" law and considers some of the ways that the advent of the Internet may inspire changes to the fair use doctrine




Just as traditional "ownership" of physical property may be riddled with exceptions to ensure public safety or meet public need, so too does copyright ownership have its exceptions. Such exceptions and limitations attempt to achieve a proper balance between the author's "exclusive right" to the profits and the display of his or her "work of art" and the public's interest in using that "art" to advance knowledge and ideas.

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Only particular forms of expression may be copyrighted, not methods, layouts, ideas or concepts.
Duration & The Public Domain
Copyright protection extends for only a set time period. After a copyright expires, the author's ownership rights are transferred to the general public.

A "fair use" of a copyrighted work does not constitute infringement, even if such use would generally interfere with the author's rights to control distribution, reproduction, and the creation of derivative works.


1. See Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § § 302(a), 305 (2001).

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