Is it illegal to create a blogging website with reviews on movies and books? Are there any copyright infringement laws for this?

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Question: I want to start a blog to review horror books but am afraid of accusations of book copyrights and book copyright protection.  I've heard there's an exception called Fair Use.  How exactly does this work?

Response: Fair Use is an exception to the author's exclusivity rights established under the U. S. Copyright laws.  The exception allows the limited use of creative works for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.  Factors in determining Fair Use include:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • The nature of the copyrighted work;
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
  • This Fair Use exception extends to even unpublished works under certain circumstances.

In your case, where you will be critiquing books and other literary work, your use of the copyright material is protected under Fair Use.  However, note that you can easily lose this protection if you reproduce a substantial portion of the copyrighted work.  It is safe just to use as few quotes and passages to underline your criticism or commentary.  If in the future you are accused of copyright infringement, consult with an entertainment lawyer experienced with literary publishing.

Answered by Sharon Cullars

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