Fair use

Faire use - the difference between France and US

On 21/08/2023

When you use content protected by copyright, it's essential to understand the legal and ethical boundaries. One commonly used exception in the United States is 'fair use', which allows limited use of the protected material without the rights holder's permission.

What is fair use?

Fair use is a legal concept that permits the limited use of content protected by copyright without prior authorization. It's an exception to the exclusive right of the copyright holder and aims to promote freedom of expression, criticism, education, research, and other societal benefits.

Fair use is primarily recognized within the U.S. legal system, but other countries have similar exceptions known as "fair dealing" or "fair practice". Although the specifics differ from one country to another, the fundamental principles are often alike.

The criteria for fair use:

Fair use is based on an evaluation of several factors to determine if a particular use is deemed fair. Here are the commonly considered criteria:

The purpose and nature of the use: Usage for educational, critical, satirical, or non-profit purposes is generally seen as more likely to be fair. Commercial use is often less likely to meet the fair use standards.

The significance of the portion used: Using a small part of the original work is more likely deemed fair. However, there's no strict rule about the amount used. Instead, it's a qualitative assessment of the significance of the used portion compared to the work as a whole.

It's important to note that these criteria are not absolute, and a case-by-case assessment is needed to determine if a particular use is considered fair.

Fair use in practice:

In practice, the evaluation of fair use is often intricate and depends on the specific circumstances of each case. Courts scrutinize the facts closely, taking into account the aforementioned criteria, to decide if a use is fair or constitutes copyright infringement.

It's vital to understand that fair use is a legal defense that can be invoked in cases of alleged copyright infringement. However, this doesn't mean that a use deemed as fair use cannot be legally challenged. Courts have the final say on the matter, and each case is individually assessed.

Also, it's crucial to realize that fair use is not absolute, and there are boundaries. Uses that go beyond what's considered fair can still be infringements of copyright.

And in France?

Compared to the legal exceptions in France, Fair use offers a much broader interpretation of exceptions, as it allows judges to identify new exceptions by applying the legal criteria of each country. On the other hand, the traditional understanding of copyright in France lists exceptions in a restrictive manner within the Intellectual Property Code."